Iran Jails British Woman for Trying to Watch Men's Volleyball Game

Brit, 25, who protested country's ban on females viewing male sports, has been jailed in infamous Tehran prison for two months, Amnesty International says.

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Ghoncheh Ghavami, in a screengrab from the Facebook campaign calling for her release.
Ghoncheh Ghavami, in a screengrab from the Facebook campaign calling for her release.Credit: Facebook

A British woman has been imprisoned for the last two months in an Iranian jail after she attempted to watch a game of men's volleyball in a Tehran stadium, The Independent reported.

Ghoncheh Ghavami, a 25-year-old lawyer and a dual British-Iranian citizen, was first arrested outside the Azadi ("Freedom") stadium on June 20, during a protest of Iran's ban on women viewing male sports.

According to the report, Ghavami was briefly released from custody, but was jailed again after she went to collect her belongings several days later. She was then transferred to Tehran's Evin Prison, wryly nicknamed "Evin University" due to the number of intellectuals, political prisoners and journalists it has housed.

According to Ghavami's brother, she has been held in Ervin since, including 41 days in solitary confinement.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office told The Independent it was looking into the matter, but that its diplomatic powers are limited in Iran. Meanwhile, a Facebook campaign calling for Ghavami's release has been launched, garnering over 10,000 likes so far.

Amnesty International said Ghavami “has been held in Tehran’s Evin Prison since June 30, largely in solitary confinement without access to her lawyer. She is a prisoner of conscience, arrested solely for taking part in a peaceful protest against the ban on women attending Volleyball World League matches in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium,” Al Arabiya reported.

The ban on women viewing male sports was instated after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, which deemed such activity "un-Islamic" as the male athletes were not considered fully dressed.

Iran's head of police told the Iranian news agency Fars, “In the current conditions, the mixing of men and women in stadiums is not in the public interest.”

"The stance taken by religious scholars and the supreme leader remains unchanged, and as the enforcer of law, we cannot allow women to enter stadiums,” Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam said.

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