May 13, 2021

By Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

A jailed Iranian women’s right activist who has campaigned against the country’s strict Islamic dress code has reportedly gone on a hunger strike to protest against the imprisonment of her mother.

The U.S.-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), which covers news in Iran, reported that 21-year-old Saba Kord Afshari had stopped eating since May 8.

It said that Kord Afshari, who is serving a 7 1/2-year sentence in Tehran’s Qarchak prison for women, suffered stomach bleeding several times and contracted the coronavirus while in custody.

Her mother, Raheleh Ahmadi, is being held in Evin prison, also in Tehran, after being handed a 31-month prison term, allegedly for speaking out about her daughter’s fate.

Kord Afshari was arrested in June 2019 after she posted a video online protesting against the compulsory veiling regulation that requires Iranian women to wear a hijab covering their hair and body in public.

The activist was initially sentenced to 24 years in prison on charges that include “encouraging prostitution” and “acting against national security,” but her sentence was later reduced.

Her mother was reportedly arrested last year. Her health is said to have deteriorated in prison.

The hijab became compulsory in Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Many Iranian women have flouted the rule over the years and pushed the boundaries of acceptable dress. Many have publicly criticized the restrictions.