Zohreh Soleimani first visited Afghanistan in 2001, when she was among the first journalists to reach the city of Herat after the fall of the Taliban. Some of her co-workers wondered why she got so close to the refugees she photographed, many of whom were sick. But she wanted a more intimate view of a country that had been cut off from the world.
“It was amazing to see how people, just a few days after the fall of the Taliban, they wanted to go back to the real life they had before, especially women,” she recalled.
By then, Ms. Soleimani had been working as a photographer in her native Tehran for years, doing news and features for domestic and foreign news media, with a focus on women’s issues. The memory of Afghanistan stayed with her, and she returned there several times. In 2011, she began to visit Badam Bagh prison near Kabul to pursue a story about women in prison.
“Nobody thought I could get inside the prison with a camera,” she said. “I had to run around for two weeks for permits. Everybody was surprised to see that an Iranian woman wanted to go to a prison. I think at first they didn’t take me seriously.”
Inside, she met Soheila, who became the subject of her documentary “To Kill a Sparrow,” produced with the Center for Investigative Reporting and featured on The Times’s website last month.
Soheila, then 21, had fled a forced marriage and fallen in love with a cousin, Niaz Mohammad. Her family had the couple thrown in jail, accused of adultery, conceiving a child out of wedlock and bigamy.
“When I talked to Soheila, I was very impressed by her strength,” Ms. Soleimani said. “For me she was like a hero because she knew that if she ran away, her father and brother could arrange for her to be killed easily.”
Read More: http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/09/afghan-women-imprisoned/?_r=0