A 29-year-old Iranian woman’s death has pushed Iran on the brink of a revolution as she immolated herself on September 2, after being detained for dressing as a man to sneak into a soccer stadium. She died on Monday.
Sahar Khodiyari set her self ablaze in front of Tehran’s Ershad Courthouse after learning she could face a six-month jail for practice entering a sports stadium where men’s game was in progress. Women in Iran are banned from watching a men’s game in the stadium.
Khodayari had been on a respirator after she doused herself with gasoline and razed herself to fire, according to the Iranian news website Rokna. She took her last breath at a Tehran hospital after getting burns and bruises across 90 per cent of her body.
“She had just learned she could be tried by a Revolutionary Court in Iran and be put in prison for six months. She had already spent three days in prison and was released for the hearing,” her father said to the website.
On Tuesday, FIFA also came out with a statement against the authorities for not letting women enter the stadium. “FIFA conveys the condolences to the family and friends of Sahar and reiterates our calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure the freedom and safety of any women engaged in this legitimate fight to end the stadium ban for women in Iran,” FIFA said.
The story soon started trending on social media with the #BlueGirl – blue being the colour of Esteghlal, the team she supported. Many distinguished agencies and people including Esteghlal came forward to support the movement under the hashtag.
— Esteghlal (@EsteghlalFC_En) September 11, 2019
Iranian women are also coming to the forefront and spurring the movement that was initiated by Khodayari against the draconian law of not allowing women to follow games played by men.
Any statement from FIFA or the AFC regarding the death of Sahar Khodayari is vacuous and disingenuous. They have known about the stadium ban, and the women in danger because of it. They did nothing. They are complicit in systemic violence against women. #bluegirl #SaharKhodayari
— Shireen Footybedsheets Ahmed (@_shireenahmed_) September 11, 2019
Amnesty International also released a statement against the draconian Shia law that is still echoing in the region of the Middle-East and beyond. “Iran is the only country in the world that stops and punishes women” seeking to enter soccer stadiums. Even Saudi Arabia, a longtime holdout, recently removed the ban on women to attend matches under a push from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The draconian law of Iran was imposed by the government during the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution restricting women to enter the stadiums after puberty. Even after the decades rolled by, the law has remained in place as Shiite hardliners decide the fate of women in the country.