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BBC Persian Coverage of Qaqnus (Phoenix) World Premiere in Seattle (in Farsi)

"Iranian women experience discrimination through law and custom that profoundly impacts their lives, especially concerning marriage, divorce, and child custody. Since the 1979 revolution, laws forcing women to wear Islamic hijab restrict every moment of their lives in public, and also stand symbolically for a much larger realm of inequality. 

In September 2022, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman died in hospital while under the custody of Iranian “morality police” who had arrested her for not wearing proper hijab. Her death sparked widespread public protests across Iran and further arrests, including that of 16-year-old Nika Shakarami. Ten days after Nika disappeared, her family was informed of her death, under suspicious circumstances believed to involve violence by security forces. The protests continued for months. After harshly repressive measures, they have ended, for now, but the issues remain alive. 

These events are part of a much longer history of Iranian women’s pursuit of equality, including fearless public protest over 150 years, and creative resistance to patriarchy in the private realm. This piece is a testament to the power of three generations of Iranian women, each holding different expectations, living through different times and historical changes. These are the grandmothers, mothers, and daughters of our own families, who raised us and inspired us with their powerful energy and love. 

Where past generations met defeat by placing hope in their daughters and trusting the future, today’s young women are saying firmly that change must come now, in our lifetimes. Like the Phoenix, or Qaqnus of Iranian mythology, who lays no egg but regenerates in a blazing fire, their future comes from their own transformation. They have shown us that the next major social and political revolution in Iran will indeed be led by women."

—Sahba Aminikia and Zara Houshmand

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