Azadeh Moaveni

Azadeh Moaveni works at the International Crisis Group. Guest House for Young Widows is out in paperback.

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...

The Garment of Terrorism

Azadeh Moaveni, 30 August 2018

Teaching at Kingston University, where Muslim women form a sizeable percentage of the student body, I noticed that some Muslim girls start their first year unveiled, only to discover that hijabi fashionistas are the ruling clique on campus. They return for second year wearing a headscarf or turban. Hijabs are cool, just like beards are cool, just like Muslim piety is cool; wearing them gives meaning to a perplexing, unjust world and lends the wearer a coherent, dignified transnational identity. It is the language of multiple rebellions: against keep your head down, ‘coconut’ parents; against the state that views your religion as a security problem; against a press that delights in your racist humiliation.

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