Flat White

A tale of lingerie and liberation

9 July 2019

7:52 PM

9 July 2019

7:52 PM

A case of persecution, followed by a period of down-and-out, but now with a happy ending:

Negzzia, 29, has been fleeing the Revolutionary Guards in Iran since 2017 after photos surfaced of her posing in revealing lingerie. She claimed a photographer tried to rape her and when she resisted, he told the authorities she had “forbidden” photos.

Facing jail for spreading “anti-Islamic culture”, the young woman hopped onto a plane to France, where she hoped for a new life.

She fled and sought asylum in Paris on November 13, 2018, hoping to find safety while pursuing her dream job in the world of fashion…

After registering at an office in Paris that takes care of asylum seekers and refugees, she remained without legal status, unable to find work or study.

The model stayed in cheap hotels until she ran out of money, and then lived on park benches…

Forbidden from working before her refugee status was granted, she said she had to sell her clothes for money.

“I sold my bag with all my dresses for 10 euros, to be able to eat.

“During the day I’d sit in heated cafes, trying to accumulate some heat for the freezing night-time…”

Other times, she said, people had sinister intentions…

Negzzia’s story has caught the attention of French authorities. On July 1, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner retweeted her story from Le Parisien and wrote: “Asylum will naturally be offered to her.”

Isn’t there some international trade union for models that could have assisted Negzzia in Paris to get her through the tough times? We need more solidarity on the catwalk.

Jokes aside, how terrible to live in a country where you can go to jail for showing a bit of flesh? Negzzia is not alone; Iranian female activists as well as average women in the street are routinely chastised, assaulted and imprisoned by the authorities for daring as much as take of their head scarves. Some 100 women were jailed last year for their acts of disobedience. As Roya Hakakian, Iranian human rights campaigner, wrote in “The Foreign Policy” on the occasion of the International Women’s Day:

Today, ordinary Iranian women, fed up with their second-class status, are refusing to obey the laws that do not protect them. Where are the American Milletts now? Why are the feminists who so fervently defend the rights of Muslim women to don the hijab in Western countries silent about the plight of Iranian women who demand to have choice? As the leading voice of the anti-mandatory veiling movement, Masih Alinejad once eloquently said before the European Parliament, “We’re not asking you to come and save us. We’ll save ourselves.” Instead, she wanted Western leaders, especially women, to see that Iranian women simply want the same right that European women take for granted: the choice to dress as they wish.

Or as Negzzia would say:

The photos – and the body – are very much the property of Negzzia. May she enjoy the creative freedom of a liberal society. And may her sisters in Iran come to enjoy freedom too. In the meantime, vive la France.

Arthur Chrenkoff blogs at The Daily Chrenk, where this piece also appears.

Illustrations: Twitter

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