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BBC Four - Storyville - Prostitution Behind The Veil (Iran 2006)

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Summary:
Prostitution Behind the Veil explores a side of Iran rarely seen or talked about. For over a year, director Nahid Persson filmed the everyday lives of two young female prostitutes in Iran as they eked out a living in a country where the profession is banned. The filmmaker often took great risks to follow Minna and Fariba as they sought out customers-men who would often marry them briefly, so as not to violate the laws of Islam by having extramarital sex. The two women are good friends and neighbor, who have experienced the widespread mistreatment of women and the double standards that permeate Iranian society today.

In the '80s, documentary filmmaker Nahid Persson fled Iran for Sweden. When she returns 17 years later, she finds the divisions between the classes greater than ever, unemployment has skyrocketed and widespread disillusionment provides a lucrative market for an elderly man, Habib, who sells prophecies on the streets. Persson decided to film this "prophecy merchant" and his customers. And when she went with him to his run-down house, she was both shocked and intrigued to discover he shares his accommodation with Minna and Fariba, who are also heroin addicts.

Putting herself at great risk, Persson manages to film Minna and Fariba's customers. She even gets into cars or apartments where they discuss what services the girls are prepared to provide and what it will cost. Their children are their constant companions, and on one occasion one customer looks after Minna's child while another man has sex with her in an adjoining room. Many of the women's customers find a way to buy sex and still comply with Muslim law: they marry with the women in what is called 'sighe'-a temporary marriage legal in Shia Islam. 'Sighe' can last from two hours up to 99 years.In the documentary, both Minna and Fariba undergo 'sighe' with customers. Habib offers his perspective on temporary marriages: to him, 'sighe' is a way of helping miserable women-an act of mercy done in the name of God. IMDb Review

Prostitution Behind the Veil is awarded as the Best News Documentary in various film festivals.
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