On my first day of school in Iran we walked down a poorly-lit corridor. I was holding my mother’s hand and crying. She was crying too. On my head I had a black hood, known as a maghnaeh, covering my hair. I was six years old and terrified. This was nothing like my kindergarten in Los Angeles.
I was born in the summer of 1979 in California, a few months after Iran’s Islamic Revolution; my mother was in her early 20s and my grandmother was 50.
Millions of Iranian women took part in the revolution, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the men, but soon afterwards the tide turned against them. Some of the basic rights women had won during the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi were revoked immediately.
- The plane journey that set Iran’s revolution in motion
- Iranian women – before and after the revolution
The Family Protection Act, which had given women the right to divorce, was nullified and a mandatory dress code requiring all women to wear the hijab was introduced.
The uprising against the shah and the revolution had scattered our family across the world.
I moved back to Iran with my parents in 1984, right in the middle of the eight-year war with neighbouring Iraq and one of the most ideologically rigid periods in the country’s recent history.