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Sepideh Rashnu


Sepideh Rashnu is a woman human rights defender, graphic designer, and a graduate student of painting at Alzahra University in Tehran. Her commitment to gender equality came into the spotlight after being arrested in July 2022 when a video capturing her encounter with a woman on a bus went viral. In the video, she was confronted by a woman advocating Iran’s law which makes it compulsory for women to wear the hijab. This incident led Sepideh Rashnu to become a prominent campaigner in the ongoing struggle against the mandatory veiling rules and women’s rights in the country.


Hope for political reform in Iran surfaced when President Hassan Rouhani assumed office in 2013 and dozens of opposition political figures and human rights defenders were released. However, violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and movement of HRDs continue to be prevalent.


Human rights defenders and journalists are arrested, detained and prosecuted in unfair trials. HRDs continue to receive death threats and are subjected to harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention. They are refused bail or receive extreme bail conditions. HRDs are additionally subjected to systematic surveillance and their family members are targeted. Journalists have been subjected to flogging for criticising the government.