SHIRIN EBADI Biography - Royalty, Rulers & leaders


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The Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi was born in 1947. She received a law degree from the University of Tehran. In the years 1975-79 she served as president of the city court of Tehran, one the first female judges in Iran. After the revolution in 1979 she was forced to resign. She now works as a lawyer and also teaches at the University of Tehran.


Both in her research and as an activist, she is known for promoting peaceful, democratic solutions to serious problems in society. She takes an active part in the public debate and is well-known and admired by the general public in her country for her defence in court of victims of the conservative faction’s attack on freedom of speech and political freedom.


Married with two grown-up daughters, she is credited with being a driving force behind the reform of family laws in Iran by seeking changes in divorce and inheritance legislation.


But she has also come into conflict with the law in Iran on a personal level, and been held in jail.


Her refusal to be silenced and her willingness to take on politically sensitive legal cases have won the admiration of human rights groups across the world, our analyst says.


"She is a popular figure in Iran and also she’s a key figure in reformist movement and like many other key figures in the movement she’s been harassed by the conservative forces who control the judiciary, " according to Ziba Mir Hosseini of the School of Oriental Studies in London, a friend of the lawyer.


Politically sensitive
A graduate of Tehran University, Shirin Ebadi was the first female judge in her country, serving as president of the Tehran city court, from 1975.


With the advent of the Islamic republic in 1979, however, she was forced to resign when it was decided that women were not suitable for such posts.


But Shirin Ebadi went on to establish a law practice, taking on the kind of politically sensitive cases many Iranian lawyers would not dream of touching.


Two of her clients, liberal intellectuals Daryoush and Parvaneh Forouhar, were stabbed to death in a series of killings in 1998 which turned out to be the work of "rogue elements" in the Intelligence Ministry.


She also defended women’s rights activists in the courts.


The lawyer found herself in the dock in 2000, accused of distributing the video-taped confession of a hardline hooligan who claimed that prominent conservative leaders were instigating physical attacks on pro-reform gatherings and figures.