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My Stealthy Freedom Iran

Marinka Masséus | Iran

“We [women] should stick together and work hard in order to find our place and survive our hardship. Maybe in the time of our children the situation will be fixed, maybe not. The only thing that matters is that we were the ones to take the first steps.”

This project reflects on forced hijab in Iran, a literal and metaphorical boundary imposed upon Iranian women. Many Iranian women hate compulsory hijab, they see it as a symbol of oppression, forced upon them not by choice or personal beliefs but by an oppressive regime. For them it has become to represent the inequality and discrimination Iranian women face because of their gender.

Every day, Iranian women defy the regime by small acts ofdefiance. By wearing the hijab too low, the colors too bright or the pants too tight. Together, these acts of bravery are affecting change, slowly but visibly evolving. The regime responds to this with regular crackdowns - when women are arrested and harassed - and by creating new laws, like the ban for women to ride a bicycle.

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. The women threw their brightly colored headscarf in the air and as it inescapably floated back to them, I captured their act of defiance.

After finishing her MBA, Marinka's studies in Buddhist Psychology guided her philosophical journey and the Photo Academy in Amsterdam stimulated her to channel her concepts and feelings into images.

Gender equality is a main theme running through Marinka’s work. She feels strongly about raising this subject which is why she went to Iran to work on two projects concerning the position of women.

Marinka's photography revolves around people and is a constant reflection of her passion and fascination for human nature and the way we live our lives. Especially topics concerning injustice and inequality are a driving force behind her work.

Marinka’s acclaim includes: Kuala Lumpur Portrait Awards 2017 - Gold MIFA Moscow Foto Awards 2017 – LensCulture Portrait Awards 2017 - Lucie Award - IPA Photographer of the Year 2016 - Silver TIFA Tokyo Awards 2016 -2x Silver Px3 2016 - 1st place IPA 2016 -2nd place MIFA 2015 - 2nd place IPA 2015 - Gold winner at Px3 2015 - 1st place Color Awards 2015 - GUP New Dutch Talent 2014 - Shortlist Alfred Fried Award - Shortlist Felix Schoeller Award.

Her work is published internationally and exhibited around the world.

Masih Alinejad and her My Stealthy Freedom movement has contributed a great sense of empowerment to Iranian women. Her campaign - for which women send their defiant photos of themselves without hijab which she then posts on Facebook - has inspired many and has exposed the magnitude of shared experience.

I feel that Iranian people are the most misunderstood people in the world. The image we have of Iran is the image of the regime. Nowhere in the world is there a bigger difference between government and people. The people possess an unparalleled kindness coupled with an innate sophistication. The women are strong and fierce, and their way of thinking secular, modern and enlightened. I have never bonded so quickly in my life and I found true friendships in Iran.

Although social media are forbidden in Iran, women in Tehran are using social media via VPN to help their battle. When they get arrested for breaking hijab rules, they film each other from a safe distance to document the brutality in the hopes of creating more awareness and to empower other Iranian women.

A lot of times in Iran, to show my support for the fight for freedom, I did not wear the compulsory headscarf - both in restaurants and in the streets. I was amazed by the heartfelt responses. Women coming up to me, thanking me, hugging me, wanting to be in the picture with me, waving from across the street and letting their hijab ‘casually’ slip as well. I was treated like a symbol of freedom just by showing my hair. I could feel the emotion, the gratitude, the hope and a sense of empowerment.

Masih Alinejad, the tireless activist of theagainst forced hijab calls upon all foreign female visitors to Iran to NOT wear the headscarf in support of the fight for freedom for women in Iran.

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