Woman dies after setting herself ablaze over Iran stadium jail fears

An Iranian female football fan, detained for dressing as a man in order to see her favorite football team play, has died a week after setting herself on fire, according to the semi-official Shafaqna news agency

Sahar Khodayari set herself alight outside a court in Tehran last week after she found herself facing a six-month prison sentence for attempting to enter the Azadi Stadium.

In the line for Tehran-based Esteghlal FC’s match against United Arab Emirates’ Al Ain — for an AFC Champions League match — Khodayari was stopped by officials at the entrance to the stadium, whose name means freedom in Farsi.

Khodayari was rushed to a local hospital with severe burns covering 90% of her body and damage to her lungs. She was confirmed dead on Monday night.

Since there are no written laws barring women from entering stadiums, Khodayari was charged for not fully adhering to Islamic hijab laws and covering her head.

A campaigner for Open Stadiums, a movement fighting for female spectators in Iran, told Euronews: “There are no written rules that women are banned from stadiums, this is our big problem. If there are rules you can campaign against it.

“Instead, we are still paying the price for a decades-old clerical argument that the atmosphere in stadiums isn’t suitable for women, that women are somehow responsible for a man’s use of bad language or ‘unsuitable’ stadium conditions.”

This hasn’t always been the case, BBC World Service Journalist Ali Hamedani shared pictures of Iran’s national women’s swimming team published in the magazine Majaleh Zanen before the 1979 revolution. They were taken in the same Azadi stadium at which women are now prohibited from entering.

By Knight Fredel

WONDER PLANET NEWSPAPER

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