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Iran's 'blue girl' dies in hospital after setting herself on fire

13:58 BST 10/09/2019
Iran women football fans stadium ban
Sahar had attempted to attend a football match - which is banned in her home country - and set herself alight after learning she could go to prison

An Iranian female football fan nicknamed 'blue girl' has died in hospital a week after setting herself on fire.

She had attempted to enter a football stadium disguised as a man because women are often prohibited from attending games.

However, she was arrested on the charge of 'improperly wearing hijab' and jailed for three days before being released on bail.

The woman - who has used the alias of Sahar - was forced to wait six months for her trial only to find out, upon her arrival at the courthouse last week, that it had been postponed because the judge had a family emergency.

According to the BBC, it is thought she overheard someone at the court suggesting that she could be jailed for between six months and two years if she was found guilty.

Shortly afterwards, she set herself on fire outside the court and has now died of her injuries in hospital.

Her sister told Rokna that Sahar was 'bipolar' and suffered from 'a serious mental health condition' that was ignored and deteriorated due to her time in prison and stress of the imminent court case. 

Furthermore, authorities would have been able to drop the charges brought against Sahar under Articles 80 and 81 of Iran's Criminal Procedures Regulations but chose to prosecute her anyway.

The ban to prevent women from entering sporting stadiums in Iran has been in effect since 1981 and is the only one of its kind in the world, according to Human Rights Watch, and, despite it not being written into law, is 'ruthlessly enforced by the country's authorities'. 

Last year, women were temporarily allowed into stadiums to watch the streaming of Iran's World Cup games inside a stadium in Tehran.

FIFA had previously set Iran a deadline of August 31 this year to lift this ban and allow women to attend games, but no change has yet been put into effect. 

Women have protested - like Sahar - by disguising themselves as men to attend matches before posting pictures to social media or by demonstrating outside the stadiums.