Did you know? Leading up to the 1979 revolution in Iran, women fought side-by-side with men to create change. Months later, however, Ayatollah Khomeini decreed mandatory hijab. The same women who had been part of the revolution took to the streets to protest what eventually became law. Because they had little to no support from their male comrades, their efforts had little effect. Today, wearing the hijab is mandatory and the lack of it is punishable under the law.
Though Iranian women are not allowed to express it, many hate compulsory hijab. They see it as a symbol of oppression which is forced on them not by choice or personal beliefs, but by an oppressive government. As Bored Panda points out, for many, compulsory hijab now represent the inequality and discrimination Iranian women face because of their gender.
To shed light on this taboo truth, Dutch photographer Marinka Masséus traveled to Iran and worked with a group of anonymous women. Together, they created the “My Stealthy Freedom” photo series that empowers Iranian women to fight for more freedom.
The photographs highlight the small ways Iranian women defy the regime every day. Some of the women wear their hijab too bright or too low, while other women wear the manteau too short or don pants that are too tight. These little acts are affecting change. Though it may be slow, it is clear Iranian society is changing.
Said Marinka: “With the windows of my Tehran apartment covered with tinfoil to ensure that the flash would not be visible from outside, we were safe to create and let creativity flow. The women threw their brightly colored headscarf in the air and as it inescapably floated back to them, I captured this act of defiance.”
Those who participated in the photo series are some of the bravest among us. This is because the Iranian government constantly passes new laws to keep females suppressed — such as making it illegal for women to ride bicycles. In time, women in Middle Eastern countries will be afforded the same rights females elsewhere are securing.
Following are 10+ photographs from the “My Stealthy Freedom” series:
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Learn more: marinkamasseus.com