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Teodora Vasquez hugs her family and friends shortly after being released from the women's Readaptation Center, in Ilopango, El Salvador on February 15, 2018, where she was serving a sentence since 2008, handed down under draconian anti-abortion laws after suffering a miscarriage.
A white flower generously shared, a scarf gently removed: two simple gestures that Yasaman Aryani dared to make on a public train in Iran. It was International Women’s Day 2019 and Yasaman, an actor who loves mountain climbing, stood up to Iran’s forced veiling laws in a brave act of defiance. With her mother, she walked through a women-only train carriage, hair boldly uncovered as she handed out white flowers. She spoke of her hopes for a future when all women would have the freedom to choose what to wear so that one day they could walk together “me without the hijab and you with the hijab”. These moments, captured on video, went viral in March 2019. On 10 April, Iran’s authorities arrested Yasaman, holding her alone in a cell for days while interrogators questioned her. They told her to “confess” that foreign elements were behind her activism and to “repent” her actions. If she didn’t, they said they would arrest her friends and family. On 31 July, Yasaman learned to her shock that she has been sentenced to 16 years in prison. She must serve at least 10 years.Yasaman’s cruel punishment is part of a wider crackdown on women campaigning against forced veiling laws in Iran. Since 2018, dozens of women, including Yasaman’s mother, Monireh Arabshah, have been arrested. The Iranian authorities must not be allowed to rob Yasaman of the best years of her life – simply because she believes women should have the right to choose what they wear.

Stand up and speak out

In 2019 we're working with 10 courageous young people, pressuring governments around the world to respect their rights.

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Our Wins

Through the power of collective action, your letters, emails and petition signatures convince governments to free people unjustly imprisoned, stop torture and end other abuses.