This photo-based video offers a rare and personal glimpse into the dangers faced by protestors on the streets of Iran today.
2023 Photo Contest, Asia, Open Format

Woman, Life, Freedom



Middle East Images/IranWire

This photo-based video offers a rare and personal glimpse into the dangers faced by protestors on the streets of Iran today.

On 16 September 2022, Mahsa Jina Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, died after she was arrested by the Islamic Republic’s morality police for allegedly violating the country’s strict rules restricting the dress and conduct of women. The protests, which began in Amini’s hometown of Saqez, quickly intensified, spreading across the country with support from Iranians of all ages, genders, and ethnicities. The Islamic Republic responded by disrupting internet access, intimidating journalists, and violently repressing uprisings with state security forces. Because hospitals are controlled by the regime, anyone injured in the protest risks arrest and further abuse upon seeking medical attention. 

This photo-based video project narrates one chaotic night in the life of an Iranian nurse as she fights to save the life of a young man named Reza, who is badly wounded by crossfire at a protest. Reza is dying and needs immediate medical attention, but the nurse fears that if he is taken to a hospital he will be arrested rather than given medical care. Instead, at great risk to herself, she takes him home and gives him a blood transfusion from her own body, saving his life. 

Hossein Fatemi is an Iranian photographer who encountered the nurse in the video while providing support to local Iranian photographers covering the protests. Images and video for this project were captured by local photojournalists, the nurse herself, and a photographer on assignment to cover her story. Journalists and photographers attempting to report on the protests face reprisals from the Iranian regime, ranging from intimidation to arrest and violent abuse. Due to state repression, it is difficult to know what is really happening inside the country. The photographers who captured the images seen here remain anonymous for security reasons. 

Story, Executive Producer: Hossein Fatemi
Editor: Hamid Reza 
Producer: Q.S
Photographers: 10 anonymous Middle East Images photographers
Licence: Middle East Images/IranWire

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About the photographer

The 10 anonymous Middle East Images/IranWire photographers contributing to Woman, Life, Freedom, awarded in the 2023 World Press Photo Contest, remain anonymous for safety reasons. Executive producer Hossein Fatemi accepted the award on their behalf.

Read the full biography

Jury comment

The jury was interested in this unique angle of widespread protests in Iran. The successful combination of photography, narrative audio, and video provides thorough information from the perspective of a nurse. The photographer successfully collected the visuals in a highly authoritarian context where gaining access to these stories is increasingly difficult. The project managed to connect with the jury on both a micro and macro level by recording the personal thoughts and emotions of the nurse while also communicating the bigger picture of the fight for women's freedoms in Iran.