‘A true face’

Iranian women take big risks to share ‘illegal’ videos of their ‘ordinary’ lives


My Stealthy Freedom, the popular Facebook page famous for featuring photos sent by women from Iran “who want to share their stealthily taken photos without the veil,” has announced a new project featuring weekly profiles of “ordinary [Iranians] dealing or struggling with everyday issues inside Iran.” The new series will weekly as part of the show Tablet on Voice of America Persian. In an astonishing first submission to the project, women from across the country submitted videos of their own “ordinary” lives as women in Iran, the page’s founder Masih Alinejad told Women in the World .

One woman featured in the first installment of the new series, an actress named Sadaf Taherian, recalled being repeatedly humiliated and objectified when meeting with film companies. She ultimately was forced to flee Iran after posting photos of herself on social media showing her not wearing a hijab. The Iranian government deemed her an “offender” and threatened that she could no longer work as an actress. Taherian, who has been largely silent since leaving Iran, recorded her footage for the interview from Turkey.

“I would hear many inappropriate comments about my physical appearance,” Taherian said. “I would cry all the way back home … They would talk to me about everything except work.”

Another woman, an athlete, shared how the Iranian government derailed her Olympic hopes because she wouldn’t be allowed to wear a hijab during competition.

A bus driver revealed that driving a bus had been her dream since she was child. But after working long hours in front of the wheel, she said, she had only more work waiting for at home — it was her duty to take care of the house and children as well. Nonetheless, what bothered her most was that “some people still don’t understand a woman can do difficult work like being a bus driver. Just like a man.”

Amid the stories of difficulty and perseverance, women also shared stories of violence — including tales of human rights activists being kidnapped by police, and of women subjected to acid attacks.

“I was going to say, ‘Who is it?” recalled one victim. “Suddenly, a sort of black wave of something came in from above the door. It burned like hell … it was like I was burning to the bone.”

Another victim said she had been confined to her home for the past three years since being blinded in an acid attack committed by her father-in-law. She recalled how her father-in-law came to her house a day after she divorced her husband, asking her “to close her eyes as he had a surprise for her.”

Even in sharing their stories, these women took significant risks. In an email to Women in the World, Alinejad explained that Iran’s harsh censorship laws make it difficult for information to emerge from the country. “These videos were sent illegally using proxies and filter-breakers directly to me,” Alinejad noted.

“I really want ordinary women to be their own storytellers,” she wrote. “I want them to be their own media. This is full of pain and power, but it is a true face of Iranian women.”

Watch the video below.



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