Shirin Ebadi

From Academic Kids

Shirin Ebadi
Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi (Persian: شیرین عبادی; born 1947) is an Iranian lawyer and human rights activist. On December 10, 2003, Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to receive the prize.


Life and early career

Ebadi was born in Hamedan. Her father was Mohammad Ali Ebadi, the city's chief notary public and a professor of commercial law. The family moved to Tehran in 1948.

Ebadi entered the law department of the University of Tehran in 1965, and participated in the entry exam for judges immediately after graduation in 1969. She officially started her career as a judge in March, 1970, after a six-month internship period. She continued her studies in University of Tehran in the meanwhile, and received a master's degree in law in 1971. In 1975, she became the first woman in Iranian law history to head a legislative branch.

Ebadi was assigned to a lower position, actually the same branch's secretary, following the Iranian revolution in 1979, when conservative clerics insisted that judgement is forbidden for women in Islam. After protests by her and other female judges, they were assigned to a little higher position, a "law expert." She finally asked for early retirement when she could not stand her situation.

Because of rejected applications, Ebadi was not able to work as a lawyer until 1993, when she was able to open a lawyer office. She used the free time to write a few books and many articles in Iranian periodicals, which made her known widely.

Ebadi as a lawyer

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شیرین عبادی Shirin Ebadi

Ebadi now lectures law at the University of Tehran, and is a campaigner for strengthening the legal status of children and women, the latter of which played a key role in the May 1997 landslide presidential election of the reformist Mohammad Khatami.

As a lawyer, she is known for taking up cases of liberal and dissident figures who have fallen foul of the judiciary, one of the bastions of hardline power in Iran. She has represented the family of Dariush Forouhar, a dissident intellectual and politician who was found stabbed to death at his home. His wife, Parvaneh, was also killed at the same time.

The couple was among several dissidents who died in a spate of grisly murders that terrorized Iran's intellectual community. Suspicion fell on extremist hard-liners determined to put a stop to the more liberal climate fostered by President Khatami, who has championed freedom of speech. The murders was found to be committed by a team of the employees of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, of which the leader Saeed Emami committed suicide in jail before being brought to the court.

She also represented the family of Ezzat Ebrahimnezhad, the only officially accepted case of murder in the Iranian student protests of July 1999. It was in the process of this case that in 2000, Ebadi was accused of distributing the video-taped confession of Amir Farshad Ebrahimi, a hardline hooligan who claimed that prominent conservative leaders were instigating physical attacks on pro-reform gatherings and figures. She claimed that she had only taped the confessions in order to present them to the court. She received a suspended jail sentence and a professional ban (which was later lifted). Her case brought increased focus on Iran from human rights groups abroad.

Ebadi has also defended various cases of child abuse cases and a few cases dealing with bans of periodicals (including the cases of Habibollah Peyman, Abbas Maroufi, and Faraj Sarkouhi). She has also established two non-governmental organizations in Iran, the Iranian Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child and the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights.

She also drafted the original text of a law against physical abuse of children, which was passed by the Majlis in 2002.

Nobel Peace Prize

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Shirin Ebadi giving her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway

On December 10 2003, Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for [1] ( The selection of Ebadi by the Norwegian Nobel committee is thought by some observers to represent an implicit criticism of American policy in the Middle East, in particular the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. George W. Bush has referred to Iran as a member of the axis of evil, and Iran has also been suggested as a possible invasion target.

At a press conference shortly after the Peace Prize announcement, Ebadi herself explicitly rejected foreign interference in the country's affairs: "The fight for human rights is conducted in Iran by the Iranian people, and we are against any foreign intervention in Iran.." [2] ( [3] (

On the other hand, some observers also view her selection as a calculated and political one, along the lines of the selection of Lech Walesa and Mikhail Gorbachev, among others, for the Peace Award. They claim that none of Ebadi's previous activities were directly related to the stated goals for the award of the Nobel Peace Prize, as originally stated by Alfred Nobel, and that according to the will of Alfred Nobel the prize should be awarded "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses". President Khatami has stated that although the scientific Nobels are important, the Peace Prize "is not important and is political".

After the Nobel prize

In November 2003, she declared that she would provide legal representation for the family of the murdered freelance photographer Zahra Kazemi.

As of 2004, she lives with her husband, an electrical engineer, and has two daughters who are university students.


Books written by Shirin Ebadi which translated into English:

  • History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (New York, 2000, ISBN 0933273401)
  • The Rights of the Child. A Study of Legal Aspects of Children's Rights in Iran (Tehran, 1994)

See also: History of Iran, Politics of Iran

External links


de:Shirin Ebadi es:Shirin Ebadi eo:Shirin EBADI fa:شیرین عبادی fr:Shirin Ebadi ko:시린 에바디 it:Shirin Ebadi nl:Shirin Ebadi ja:シーリーン・エバーディー pl:Shirin Ebadi sl:Širin Ebadi sv:Shirin Ebadi ta:சிரின் எபாடி


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