Azadeh Moaveni

Azadeh Moaveni is the author of Guest House for Young Widows. She teaches at NYU.

On 4 March,​ the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Pramila Patten, held a press conference to brief reporters on the attacks of 7 October. A team from her office had spent two weeks in Israel and the West Bank, at the invitation of the government, examining what had happened that day, but Patten was expected to make, at most, a short press statement. Her...

In November​ 2017, Marc Gabolde, an Egyptologist at Paul Valéry University in Montpellier, received a grainy photograph on his phone from a colleague attending the opening party for the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The picture showed a pink granite stele on display at the museum. Had Gabolde seen it before? If not, what did he think? The stele was dated to 1327 BCE and came from Abydos, a sacred...

Diary: Two Weeks in Tehran

Azadeh Moaveni, 3 November 2022

In Tehran, the nightly confrontations have spread into the squares and boulevards of northern areas, a sign that a less economically battered class is now also participating. In girls’ schools, the courage to scrawl a slogan on the blackboard is spreading to younger groups. Headteachers have been told to release girls one by one after school, in order to discourage gatherings and make it easier to spot any gestures of protest, and to remove the austere pictures of the revolution’s founders from classrooms, so that the girls can’t tear them down and stomp on them while their friends film them on their phones and upload the videos. As dissent winds its way through different age groups and neighbourhoods, the movement has remained remarkably steady: it hasn’t become destructive or violent, lost public sympathy or its radical feminist spirit. Previous protests in Iran have swiftly descended into destructive rioting, been viciously crushed or have petered out, driven by too narrow a grievance. 

Women on the Brink

Azadeh Moaveni, 12 May 2022

The Russian assault​ on Ukraine has produced the largest and swiftest mass movement of women since the Second World War. More than four million women have been displaced within Ukraine and around the same number have fled the country. Many of those who left, congregating in towns and cities in Poland, or taking buses and trains to other European capitals, went reluctantly. Their male relatives – men between eighteen and sixty have to remain in Ukraine – pushed them to go, saying they would be happier to fight if their families were safely out of the country. Whether it is safer out of the country, however, is far from clear. Ukrainian women have been among the most trafficked in the world since the fall of the Soviet Union. And since the war began, instances of predation have surged at border crossings and railway stations, and on social media platforms where women seek shelter and work. The Ukrainian women arriving in Poland find a country experiencing a different kind of conflict.

The Caviar Club: Rebel with a Hermès Scarf

Azadeh Moaveni, 9 September 2021

Farah Pahlavi and Andy Warhol photographed in New York, 1977.

In the mid 1970s​, Iran started buying nudes. Some were abstract nudes, such as Willem de Kooning’s Woman III, with her yellow hair and emphatic yellow breasts and an expression that suggests some bemusement at de Kooning’s ‘melodrama of vulgarity’. Some featured nudity as part of a mysterious mise en...

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