"Loss Piles on Loss for Afghan Women" for The New York Times (2023)

Today, Afghanistan is among the most restrictive countries in the world for women, according to human rights monitors. When the Taliban returned to power in the country in August 2021, women were among the most profoundly affected. Some went into hiding, fearing retribution, and others protested in the streets.
While the end of fighting offered a welcome respite, particularly for women in rural areas, others’ lives have been severely constricted. Many watched 20 years of gains made under Western occupation unravel as the new government issued edict after edict scrubbing women from public life. Girls are barred from secondary schools. Women are prohibited from traveling any significant distance without a male relative, and from going to public spaces like gyms and parks. In recent months, women were banned from attending universities and from working for aid organizations, some of the last hopes left for professional or public lives. But the most profound change is invisible: It is the storm of loss, grief and rage that has enveloped the city’s women, they say.
We spoke with dozens of women across the country to understand how their lives and Afghan society have changed over the past year and a half. Tap the link in our bio to hear from these women.


"5 Desperate Days: Escaping Kabul" for The New York Times (2021)

Baggage lost, bodies battered, more than 120 Times employees and family members barely made it to a plane out of Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. It required an unsettling collaboration.


"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:


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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