Ebadi, Shirin

Ebadi, Shirin shērēn ĕbôdē´ [key], 1947–, Iranian jurist, author, and human-rights activist. From a family of distinguished jurists, she obtained her law degree (1969) and doctorate (1971) from Tehran Univ. In 1969 she became a judge and served (1975–79) as president of the Tehran city court. With the coming (1979) of the Islamic revolution, women were deemed unfit to be judges and reassigned to lower posts. Ebadi left the judiciary, taught at her alma mater, and after waiting eight years was granted (1992) her attorney's license. As a lawyer with a profound understanding of both civil and sharia law, she became a courageous advocate for women and children and of democracy and civil rights for all Iranians. She established (1995) the Association for Support of Children's Rights and cofounded (2001) the Human Rights Defense Center. Ebadi has defended dissidents, labor activists, reformers, minorities, and others persecuted by Iranian hard-liners, has clashed with the government on numerous occasions, was briefly jailed in 2000, and called for political sanctions and an arms embargo against the government following the suppression of protests over the 2009 election. In 2003 she became the first Muslim woman and first Iranian to win the Nobel Peace Prize. After suffering numerous threats and attacks by the government to herself and her associates, she decided not to return to Iran after a trip abroad in 2009, and now lives in exile. Her books include The Rights of the Child (1987, tr. 1994) and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (1993, tr. 2000).

See her memoirs, Iran Awakening (2006) and Until We Are Free (2016); biography by J. Hubbard-Brown (2007).

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