I Wake Up and Scream: Secret Taliban Prisons Terrorize Thousands" for The New York Times (2021)

The Taliban prison is a ruined house, a cave, a filthy basement in an abandoned dwelling, or a village mosque. Beatings or worse are a certainty, and the sentence is indefinite. Food, if there is any, is stale bread and cold beans. A bed is the floor or a dirty carpet. The threat of death — screamed, shouted, sometimes inflicted — is ever-present.


"I Could Just Vanished: In Kabul, Pocket Notes to Prevent Anonymous Death" for The New York Times (2021)

The constant threat of a sudden, brutal death has left many Afghans with a sense of despair and fatalism. The most prosaic acts can end violently — commuting to work, visiting a friend, buying groceries, striding into a classroom.
As violence engulfs them, some Afghans carry notes with their names, blood types and relatives’ phone numbers in case they are killed or severely wounded.


"Fighting Patriarchy, and Fearing Worse From the Taliban" for The New York Times (2020)

A new generation of career-minded women in Afghanistan fear that all they have fought for will be swept away if the Taliban negotiate a return. For employed women, whose positions barely existed under Taliban rule, the possible return of the extremists is especially alarming. Thousands of Afghan women have moved into jobs and public roles in the 19 years since the American invasion toppled the Taliban and ended strictures that had confined women to their homes and brutally punished them for violations.
The peace deal envisions intra-Afghan negotiations that would return the Taliban to political power in a postwar government. The Taliban’s deputy leader has said that “the rights of women granted by Islam” would be respected. But that was the same principle cited during the Taliban’s harsh rule."


"Peace Can't Bring My Love Back" for The New York Times (2019)

Over the years we have reported countless stories of people caught in the hopeless grind of the conflict. We reached some of those individuals to hear their feelings and fears.
Many Afghans, who express an urgent need for ending the bloodshed, have remained skeptical of the agreement. Although the United States-Taliban deal would open the way for direct negotiations between the insurgents and Afghan officials over the country’s political future, they fear that a loss of leverage by withdrawing American troops could embolden the Taliban, who would want to roll back basic liberties of the past 18 years such as women’s rights and freedom of the press.


"Afghan Women Don't Want To Be Saved. But They Demand To Be Heard" for Buzzfeed News (2019)

The women of Afghanistan would like to be heard.
Before the recent peace negotiations suddenly broke down — when President Donald Trump announced that he had canceled secret talks with the Taliban — women had been almost entirely sidelined from the conversation about the future of their country.
The US intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 was premised in part on liberating women from the restrictive rule of the Taliban. The last 18 years have seen some progress, and life has improved for some women, allowing them enroll in school, work, and explore simple personal freedoms previously denied to them.But many of them now fear for the future.
We spoke with 18 women in the Afghan capital of Kabul about their concerns if the Taliban were to regain power:


The Taliban Made Me Fight for The New York Times (2018)

The boys in what Badam Bagh officials call the suicide bombers wing ranged in age from 12 to 17. Their cases were in various stages; some had been convicted and were serving their sentences, while others were awaiting trial. At the time of our visit, 47 boys were being held in the Badam Bagh juvenile detention center in Kabul as national security threats. Most were charged with planting, carrying or wearing bombs, and many of them, like Muslim, were accused of trying to become suicide bombers. “I am not a suicider,” Muslim said. “The Taliban made me fight for them.” Nearly all of the boys arrested on charges related to suicide attacks were educated in madrasas, conservative religious schools that can serve as recruiting and indoctrination centers for suicide bombers. For the authorities, children like him present a conundrum: what to do with them when they finish their sentences, which often range from two to 10 years. Many will be released just as they reach adulthood, when they are even more capable of causing mayhem. Afghan prisons have fewer adults accused of plotting or carrying out suicide bombings than children, although that may be because the adult bombers are more successful at killing themselves.


Afghan Women on the Frontline (2017)

In Afghanistan, one of the most dangerous places in the world, simply being a woman can get you killed. While most Afghan women still lack basic rights, a small but brave number of Afghan women are defying gender stereotypes, rampant discrimination and shocking levels of violence to serve on the front lines with the police, army, air force and special forces and in support roles of a war that has killed hundreds of thousands. Sixteen years after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, women make up less than 1% of security forces. Many of these women serve in secret, keeping their careers from their neighbors, communities and even families to avoid death threats and public shame. Meet the small but brave number of women on the front lines of a violent, but changing Afghanistan.

Your Veil is a Battleground (2011/12)

Your Veil is a Battleground is a continuation of Beyond The Veil project. Inspired by the title of Barbara Kruger's controversial piece, "Your body is a battleground," this series of diptych portraits explore different ways that young Iranian women choose to wear Hijab.
Even though Hijab is enforced on women in Islamic Republic of Iran and is mandatory to wear in public, these young women implement it as a fashion element, accompanying it with distinctive make-ups and colorful headscarves. Many young women take advantage of this to make a statement with their look, stand out of the crowd and empower themselves. One may even argue that beside from the Hijab, the make up itself, is a form of veil as well.
The image that one represents from self is important in Iranian culture. These brave young women have shown tremendous strength and confidence by putting themselves in front of my camera, allowing me to photograph them not only without the veil, but also bare of make up.

Kiana Hayeri

Iranian-Canadian photographer, focusing on migration, identity and sexuality in societies dealing with oppression or conflict.
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