SOAS University of London

About SOAS

Dr Shirin Ebadi

Dr Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer and former judge and an internationally recognised advocate of human rights. She was the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr Ebadi received her law degree from Tehran University. In 1970 she became one of the first female judges in Iran and in 1975 was appointed Chief Magistrate of 26th Divisional Court in Tehran.

Following the 1979 revolution all female judges were dismissed and Dr Ebadi was demoted to the post of magistrate’s clerk in the same court over which she once presided. She took early retirement.

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Dr Shirin Ebadi, Honorary Doctorate, 2012 Graduation

In 1992 Dr Ebadi set up a private practice handling contentious cases. She was the defence lawyer for many controversial political and human rights cases in Iran and also took on the case of the seven leaders of the Baha’i faith in Iran. She was subsequently incarcerated on charges of spreading and publishing lies against the Islamic Republic in 1999 and spent 25 days in solitary confinement. Dr Ebadi was then sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and barred from practicing law for five years. Due to international pressure the sentence was reduced to a fine on appeal.

Dr Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 and used some of the prize money to set up an office for the Centre for Defenders of Human Rights and support the families of political prisoners. The centre became a prominent human rights organisation but has since been closed down.

Dr Ebadi left Iran shortly before the June 2009 presidential election to participate in an international conference. She did not return to Iran owing to the severe restrictions imposed on human rights activists and upon receiving news of colleagues’ arrests she continues her activities in de facto exile.

Dr Ebadi has received numerous awards for her work and lectures at various institutes and universities around the world. She is also the author of many books dedicated to various aspects of human rights.