What are some human rights issues and violations in Azar Nafisi's book Reading Lolita in Tehran?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Azar Nafisi's book Reading Lolita in Tehran is a slightly fictionalized account of how the Islamic revolution, which replaced the Shah of Iran with a Shia theocracy, affected the lives of Persian women. It tells the story of a reading group using the activities of reading, discussing, and interpreting literary texts as a lens through which to critique broader social issues.

The first human rights violation of the Iranian regime is that of freedom of religion. People in contemporary Iran have no religious choice; not only must they follow Islam, but they must follow a specific branch of Islam under a strict interpretation. Iran persecutes religious minorities.

Gender inequality is another major human rights violation discussed. Women must sit in the backs of buses, have no freedom even to choose their clothing, but can be arrested for not dressing in a certain manner. Many careers and positions of power are not open to women at all. 

The next major human rights violation described is an extreme level of censorship, in which people cannot enjoy freedom of speech, assembly, or participation in the body politic (such as voting for candidates of their choice).

Finally, Iran uses the death penalty (a human rights violation it shares with China and several US states but no European country), and inhumane lesser punishments such as flogging.

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