90 Lashes Too Many: The Story of Marzieh Vafamehr

Posted: October 16, 2011 by jerkmag in VAULT -- archives
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One year and 90 lashes too many. Most people would agree that different cultural beliefs and customs should be respected. That is, within certain parameters. When it begins to infringe upon a person or group’s rights as a human being that’s a whole other story.

Generally, I try to keep an open mind when reading about other countries’ policies and laws, but it becomes impossible to do so when it comes to cases such as that of Marzieh Vafamehr. Vafamehr is an Iranian actress who played the lead in the 2009 Australian film “My Tehran for Sale.”

She was just sentenced to one year in jail and 90 lashes by an Iranian court, after her arrest in July. The official charges are allegations of her participation “in a film whose shooting did not have the required permits.” Both the film’s director and Vafamehr’s husband have called bullshit on those charges, saying they’re completely baseless. I absolutely agree, especially since the director has since provided all “missing” documentation to the court.

The film is about an Iranian actress whose banned theater work drives her into Tehran’s cultural underground. The whole situation is ironic because of the extreme parallels between the role she plays in the film and the current state of her life. Part of the controversy regards her appearance in the film because she is shown many times with a shaved head and not wearing headscarf in the film. She is also shown doing drugs, as well as violating other cultural taboos.

Cross your fingers that the ruling is overturned. Whether it’s a result of court proceedings, or outcry from international human rights groups and foreign governments, hopefully, justice will actually be served.

-Erin Elzo

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