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Iranian Opposition Leader's Wife Decries Violence Against Women

Zahra Rahnavard (left) votes with her husband, Mir Hossein Musavi, at a polling station in southern Tehran in the June 2009 presidential election.
Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi's wife has written an open letter to judiciary head Ali Larijani condemning political violence in the country, especially against women, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Zahra Rahnavard's letter was published on the reform website Kalame. It was written on November 25, a day marked for condemning violence against women.

In her letter, Rahnavard writes that Iran has become "a detention center" where the environment is that of a "police state."

Azadeh Kian, sociologist and women's rights researcher at the University of Paris, says that Rahnavard highlighted in her letter the embattled condition of the women's movement in Iran.

"Rahnavard has very actively worked with the women's movement for the past year," Kian says.

Rahnavard wrote in the letter about various women's issues in the country over the past 30 years.

Kian noted that Rahnavard has been fighting for women's rights for the 20 years, especially when she was chancellor of the University of Alzahra.

Kian says that along with the hard work of other Iranian women, Rahnavard is one of the main people promoting women's issues in Iran -- with the help of her husband -- during and after his 2009 presidential election campaign.

"She has criticized the past 30 years of the Iranian system [since the Islamic Revolution], which includes the period when her husband was prime minister," Kian says.

She says Rahnavard has used all of her political experience to publicize the demands of the women's movement and to attract attention to them.

Kian adds that Rahnavard has a large following. "She is influential not only among the higher-educated class of women [in Iran], but also among the traditional ones," she says.