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I was detained for 72 nights, 69 of them in solitary confinement, before being released on bail. The most obvious limitation was that I was neither allowed to work as a journalist nor speak with colleagues in the media about the alleged case against us. Being a female journalist has risks in patriarchal Islamic societies like Iran.
The scale of the risk became clear to me on July 22, 2014, when security forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) raided my apartment in Tehran.
I was detained for 72 nights, 69 of them in solitary confinement, before being released on bail. The most obvious limitation was that I was neither allowed to work as a journalist nor speak with colleagues in the media about the alleged case against us.
The Islamic Republic of Iran at the time was holding about five dozen news writers behind bars. Among them were ten female journalists, including myself, making Iran the world’s leading jailer of female journalists that year.
I know that on multiple occasions I was able to conduct interviews with conservative officials—both male female—because they assumed I was less of a threat or that I had a smaller audience reading my work.
I was given a chance to ask a question at former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s final nationally televised press conference, before his second term ended.
Rezaian writes that such tactics not only oppress journalists, but are also part of a “larger goal of silencing women and defusing grassroots attempts at gender equality.”Despite these challenges, women reporters continue to work to tell important stories in the region.
Rezaian’s access as a woman has allowed her to cover topics that a newsroom may otherwise ignore, or that a man could not cover in a conservative religious setting.