Shaghayegh Norouzi is an actress who had to leave her home country after she had been subjected to psychological violence and rape threats in Iran while doing her occupation.
She was only 21 when she refused to be in a ‘special’ relationship with the director of a film series in Iran.
“‘I’m telling you this to explain my situation as a woman, to understand how fragile I was. I was very young.” she begins telling her story to MA.
“I had passed a lot of exams to get that job. I thought I had succeeded because I was so good, and the people who chose me said, ‘You’ve been selected from 300 people.’ But before the end of the three weeks of filming, the director asked for a relationship beyond my professionalism. I rejected that. But that wasn’t just by saying no, in one word. For a young woman, it was a very difficult process to say ‘no’ in the film sector in Iran. Saying ‘no’ to this offer and resisting it has made a seven-month series of filming hell for me. Then I was mobbed by that director and all the men who worked there. Within seven months, psychological persecution had affected my entire life and had turned it into trauma. One of the most profound events of my life was that seven months of work.”
After those dark days, she decided not to remain silent and starts speaking out about the sexual violence and oppression in the film sector in Iran. After that she was not able to find a job in the film sector in Iran anymore. She also had to leave her country and moved to Spain due to continuing pressure against her. But she did not stop fighting against patriarchy in Iran. She is one of the founders of the #MeToo movement in Iran.
“When I was facing these problems, there was no #MeToo movement yet. I was alone, feeling alone. But at the time, an interview was published about sexual violence experienced by women in Iran. So I wrote a post on my Instagram account and told them about my experiences. My article attracted a lot of reaction and so I decided to focus more on this issue.”
This is how the world wide #MeToo movement started in Iran. Shaghayegh Norouzi had just moved to Spain when she started the movement.
“I asked women from my Instagram account to write about sexual violence that all women have experienced in their professions. For several months, I published the stories of many women on my own Instagram account. Later, some of the stories began to be published in Iran. Women who worked in cinema but weren’t very famous began to share their experiences on their own Instagram accounts too. (Instagram is the only major social media platform accessible to Iranians without a VPN). In other words, the #MeToo movement in Iran started with posts from women’s private accounts.”
Shaghayegh Norouzi is now spending all her time for the #MeToo movement.
“I’m already giving all my time for #MeToo. That’s how I feel I am getting my voice back. Collaborating with other women, working together with women’s solidarity makes me feel stronger. I’ve just started small things in terms of my activity in Spain. But now I’m using my creativity in acting for #MeToo.”
When she is asked about Kurdish women and the womens struggle in Kurdistan, she gets excited.
“The situation in Rojava has shown us how liberating women’s resistance is. It also shows the difference between women and men who started the war. There are also feminist principles in the women’s resistance in Rojava. We have a lot to learn from them.”
“Rojava symbolises diversity. The Rojava revolution is a symbol of women’s resistance to men’s rule. Women said , ‘Our resistance against men is serious enough to be armed. But at the same time, our resistance is also about solidarity, peace, diversity, multiculturalism.’ Our struggle is both against racism and patriarchy. In that way Rojava is an inspiration for all women of the world. “