According to Iranian media, the Women's Alpine ski team traveled to Italy for the World Championships without their coach, Samira Zargari. Under Iran's Sharia laws, husbands may stop their wives from leaving the country. Zargari's husband barred her from attending the championships with her team.
Some interpretations of Iran's laws, grounded in Islamic Sharia, require women to have male guardians. These laws impose sex apartheid against women. Women must submit to males for important decisions. Typically, this would apply to her father or another male relative. In the case of married women, they require permission from their husbands.
Iranian skier Forough Abbasi shares her support for coach Samira Zargar, who was barred from traveling to the world championships by her husband. Under Iranian law, husbands can stop their wives from traveling outside of the country.
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) February 18, 2021
A woman's husband decides if she may obtain a passport, and she can only use that passport to leave the country if her husband is either with her or has approved her travel plans. He is not required to justify any decisions he makes, nor does he have to inform his wife of those decisions.
Four Iranian skiers were part of a 99-skier race at the world championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo, a ski resort in northern Italy: Atefeh Ahmadi, Sadaf Savehshemshaki, Forough Abbasi, and Marjan Kalhor.
"Always I (am) proud of all Iranian girls," Zargari told the Associated Press (AP) via a text message. "I love them."
Barred from travel by US-born husband with US/Iran citizenship, Iran ski coach works remotely, wants to launch campaign to change law: https://t.co/AsJYjyMyo6
— LisaBaumann (@LisaBaumann) February 19, 2021
Zargari (age 37) and her husband were together for five years. She told AP that her husband is currently in a relationship with her best friend. He asked her to consent to divorce. "I didn't, and he blocked me," said Zargari, then continued to say that her husband is "always laughing at my job and my team."
"I'm so sad, and I can't believe it," she said, further explaining that she was looking to the International Ski Federation (FIS) for help. In a statement to the AP, FIS said that it "sympathizes with any team member who cannot travel to our world championships. However, FIS is also not in a position to dispute the laws of any given nation."
Zargari has said she wants to launch a "campaign" to change the law. Although she acknowledges that the law which enables husbands to block their wives' passports is troubling, she still loves Iran.
Women's rights activists have attempted to educate women regarding existing laws and their rights via social media. They advised them how to make a prenuptial arrangement, according to a member of Iran's Committee of Human Rights Reporters, Shiva Nazar Ahari, who spoke with Deutsche Welle (DW). "This is referred to as "conditions of the marriage," she stated. "It allows women to make their own decisions in life after the marriage ceremony."
Those who promote informing women of their rights in Iran risk their own freedom. Sociologist Najme Vahedi and lawyer Hoda Amid, arranged workshops where they could educate women about their legal rights. They were arrested in October 2019 and kept incarcerated at the infamous Evin prison in Tehran for more than 60 days. They were eventually released on bail.
They both received guilty verdicts, in December 2020, of "collaborating with the hostile American government against the Islamic Republic of Iran on women and family issues." Vahedi was sentenced to eight years, and Amid was sentenced to seven years in prison.