Amnesty International 10 September 2019
Responding to reports that a young woman who set herself on fire after being summoned to court to face charges after trying to enter a football stadium in Tehran has died from her injuries in hospital, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther, said:
“What happened to Sahar Khodayari is heart-breaking and exposes the impact of the Iranian authorities’ appalling contempt for women’s rights in the country. Her only ‘crime’ was being a woman in a country where women face discrimination that is entrenched in law and plays out in the most horrific ways imaginable in every area of their lives, even sports.
“To our knowledge, Iran is the only country in the world that stops and punishes women seeking to enter football stadiums. This discriminatory ban must end immediately and the international community, including football’s world governing body, FIFA, and the Asian Football Confederation, must take urgent action to end the ban and to ensure that women are allowed access to all sports stadiums without discrimination or risk of prosecution or punishment.
“While the Iranian authorities have allowed small numbers of women to enter football stadiums on a handful of occasions, these have amounted to nothing more than publicity stunts, rather than meaningful steps to lifting the ban on women altogether. Amnesty International believes that Sahar Khodayari would still be alive if it were not for this draconian ban and the subsequent trauma of her arrest, detention and prosecution for attempting to circumvent it. Her death must not be in vain. It must spur change in Iran if further tragedies are to be avoided in the future.”