Why You Should Know More About Her:
Shirin Ebadi is Iran's leading advocate for human rights, and a powerful voice for the rights of women and children in the Muslim world.
Ebadi graduated from law school at the University of Tehran in 1969, and spent the next decade climbing the ranks as one of Iran's youngest female judges. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 put an end to all of that, demoting Ebadi and all other female Iranian judges to secretarial positions, so she refocused on activism. In 1993, she was reinstated as an attorney and has spent the past decade and a half promoting human rights in Iran--both inside and outside of the courtroom.
The Forouhar Case:
Ebadi has dedicated her career to protecting Iranian dissidents and other victims of human rights abuses. She is perhaps best known in Iran for her work on behalf of the family of political reformers Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar, who had been stabbed to death in their home in 1998. Ebadi was able to help connect the murders to the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence; the head of the agency, Saeed Emami, committed suicide before he could be formally charged.
Child Abuse Law:
In 1994, Ebadi co-founded the Society for Protecting the Rights of of the Child. She is also generally credited as author of Iran's landmark 2002 law outlawing the physical abuse of children.
Lawsuit Against the United States:
Ebadi sued the U.S. Treasury Department in 2004 for blocking U.S. publication of her memoir, Iran Awakening, under anti-Iranian embargo laws. Her lawsuit was ultimately successful, and the book was published by Random House in 2006.
Awards and Recognition:
Although her work has long been recognized in Iran, Ebadi achieved global fame when she was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. She is also the recipient of at least thirteen honorary doctorates, the French Legion of Honor, and numerous awards from international human rights groups.
Persecution in 2009:
In May 2009, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was "reelected" as president of Iran using vote tallies that were obviously spurious in nature. Thousands of Iranians protested, and the Iranian government responded by targeting reformers and their families. The government threatened to prosecute Ebadi for capital offenses in a June 2009 newspaper editorial, froze her financial accounts, and detained and beat her husband several months later. In November 2009, international journalists learned that the Iranian government had stolen Ebadi's Nobel Prize diploma and medallion from her safe deposit box.
Although Ebadi has criticized many policies of the Iranian government, she believes that nonviolent internal reform is possible and is a leading voice against U.S. conservatives' proposed invasion of Iran. Although the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad regime has harassed Ebadi and her family, and has taken an increasingly hostile tone towards her work, she appears to be safe, in good spirits, and actively carrying on her human rights advocacy work within Iran.