Born in 1947, Shirin Ebadi lives in Tehran where she trained in law, obtained a doctorate from Tehran University and served as a judge from March 1969 - the first woman to ever do so in Iran. Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in February 1979 she, and other female judges, were dismissed from their posts and given clerical duties (in Ebadi's case, in the very court she had presided over). She resigned in protest and was, in effect, housebound for many years until finally, in 1992, she succeeded in obtaining a lawyer's license and setting up her own practice. Since then she has represented various high-profile cases including the families of political victims, journalists in relation to freedom of expression, child custody cases and others. The recipient of many prizes and accolades, she has also written many books and articles and lectured on human rights all over the world. This is her first book for a Western audience.
Most Americans date troubles with Iran to the 1979 overthrow of the shah and the 444-day U.S. embassy hostage drama. Iranians date the friction back to 1953, when the U.S. orchestrated a coup that removed beloved Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Ebadi recalls that period as the beginning of shifting politics that would erode basic freedoms and notions of human rights in Iran. Raised to believe in gender equality, Ebadi became a judge but was demoted to secretary when the Islamic Revolution under Ayatollah Khomeini demanded subservience of women. Ebadi estimates that five million Iranians, feeling oppressed by the revolution, left the country, draining valuable resources and leaving bitterly separated families. Ebadi lost her profession (she was demoted from judge to a clerk) her friends, and her country but was determined to stay and speak out against oppression. She eventually returned to public life as a human-rights lawyer taking on the defense of women, children, and dissidents. Ebadi offers a very personal account of her life and her fight for human rights in Iran. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.