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DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | 57 MIN | 2005

PROSTITUTION BEHIND THE VEIL

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Minna and Fariba are single mothers, good friends, neighbors-and prostitutes living in a city in Iran. Director Nahid Persson spent over a year following these two Iranian women both of whom were forced--because their husbands are incarcerated--to resort to selling their bodies, in a society that not only bans prostitution, but in which adultery is a crime that can carry the death penalty. But work is difficult to find, and support for the poor, especially a single mother, is minimal. There are no safe answers from women in need in this country. But Islamic law has found a way around the crime of adultery for both married and single men: they marry women in what is called "Sigheh", a temporary marriage legal in Shia Islam. A "Sigheh" can last anywhere from two hours to one year. But since this out does not apply to the "wife," Minna and Fariba are constantly harassed and persecuted by police. On a daily basis, not only must they accept avoid the police and accept rough treatment from their customer, they also must decide whether or not to take their children with them. In addition to selling their bodies, they both are addicted to heroin, a problem that is reaching epidemic proportions in Iran where the drug is readily available and possession heavily punished. Persson, who fled Iran 20 years ago, treats these stories with compassion and humanity. Minna and Fariba are single mothers, good friends, and neighbors-and prostitutes living in a city in Iran. Director Nahid Persson spent over a year following these two Iranian women both of whom were forced-because their husbands are incarcerated-to resort to selling their bodies, in a society that not only bans prostitution, but in which adultery is a crime that can carry the death penalty. But work is difficult to find, and support for the poor, especially a single mother, is minimal. There are no safe answers for women in need in this country. But Islamic law has found a way around the crime of adultery for both married and single men: they marry women in what is called "Sigheh", a temporary marriage legal in Shi'a Islam. A "Sigheh" can last anywhere from two hours to one year. But since this out does not apply to the "wife," Minna and Fariba are constantly harassed and persecuted by police. On a daily basis, not only must they avoid the police and accept rough treatment from their customers, they also must decide whether or not to take their children with them. In addition to selling their bodies, they both are addicted to heroin, a problem that is reaching epidemic proportions in Iran where the drug is readily available and possession heavily punished. Persson, who fled Iran 20 years ago, treats these stories with compassion and humanity.
Film Information
Year: 2004
Length: 57 minutes
Language: Farsi
Country: Denmark
Premiere: North American
Cast & Credits
Special Note

About the Director(s)
Born in Iran Nahid Persson studied microbiology in Sweden and during this time founded a local radio station. She began her studies in 1993 and attended master classes from 2003 to 2004. Her previous films include: Me and My Cousin (Jag och min kusin, 2003), The Last Days of Life (I livets slutskede, 2002), and End of Exile (Sjutton år av längtan, 2000). Her most recent film, Prostitution Behind the Veil, was awarded First Prize at the Marseille Festival International du Documentaire.

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