Cultural dialogue (Part 2)

Memoirs of women in war

Adjusted by Iranian Oral History Website
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


Over the past two decades, the role and status of women during the sacred defense era has occupied a significant part of the sacred defense literature, but there are still various topics in this regard that have not received much attention.

In a live interview with Radio Goftogoo on 8th of December 2020, Faezeh Sassanikhah the author of the book “Bright Light of the City” examined the importance of addressing women's lives and memories during the sacred defense and the reason for not paying attention to some of these memories. In the continuation of the program, Somayeh Sharifloo and Fatemeh Doostkami were the guests of this program by phone for a few minutes and talked about the role of women in literature.

The Iranian Oral History website has transcribed the interviews done in the radio program for the interested people in this field. The first part of the cultural dialogue was released in the website last week and the second and final part is as follows.  

In continuation of the program, Fatemeh Doostkami, a writer and researcher in the field of sacred defense and the author of the book "Sabah", was the phone guest of the program. She considered the warm welcoming of the book as a grace of God and added: "I got acquainted with the character of Sabah Watankhah in the book “Daa” and in view of various positions existed in it even in dealing with the medical staff, it was attractive to me. I got her memoirs from the Office of Art and Resistance Literature of the Art Center, and with her, we came to the realization that the narrator's personality is a good subject, and started working.

Regarding her analysis of the presence of women in the context of sacred defense, she said: "It is necessary to address this issue from several perspectives. There is tenderness in essence of a woman that distinguishes her from the opposite sex. During the Sacred Defense and Jihad, women are generally expected to be more fragile when the enemy invades and the homeland is occupied, whether in the years of the Sacred Defense or now in the case of the defenders of the shrine, but when we sit to listen to them or see their performance closely, we see that where they have been supposed to make a decision or take an action, they put aside the emotional debate and shine well.

The author of “Sabah” did not consider being emotional as a weakness for women and said: "For women who were not old at that time, the war was a showcase that selected them and put a heavy burden on them despite all problems; a burden about which they are talking now and feel it is alive.

Regarding the changes in the presence of women in different periods of the sacred defense, Faezeh Sassanikhah, referring to the experiences she gained during various interviews, said, “First of all, I should say that before the start of the war, the Imam had ordered the formation of a constructive jihad, which had created the initial readiness to serve in society. Some of the members of the jihad were girls and women who were actively involved in various parts of the constructive jihad, such as health, cultural and educational affairs. And this was an introduction to the presence of some women in the war, and they were able to quickly connect with the war and start their activities.

She added: "Since the early days of the war, some women started their activities in their homes before the official formation of the war support headquarters and started serving the front according to their relations and information about the needs of the front and then joined the official war support headquarters."

About the women’s serving during the scared defense, the researcher in the field of the sacred defense and women said, “It was natural that we made error and trial in the beginning of the war. As the war went on more, popular activities including those of women increased based on the experiences they had gained. A group of women operated in their own cities, but those women who had no excuse and could go to war zones for two weeks or a month became forerunners for the people involved in the war and after return, their serving to the war fronts or war-stricken areas doubled or tripled.

In another part of the program, Faezeh Sassanikhah, in connection with establishing relation between different types of art to communicate with the general audience, said: "My concern during these years of work in the field of women and sacred defense is that we still have not produced good documentaries acceptable to the audience in the field of women. Every year, on the anniversary of the Sacred Defense Week and liberation of Khorramshahr, repetitive subjects and documentaries are produced, while we have many people who were active in the war at the climax of anonymity. There are untapped topics that have yet to be addressed. Successful movies such as Trench 143 and Villa People were produced about the role and status of women in the war, but they were short-lived events that did not continue, and perhaps it goes back to our view that we see women less.

He did not confirm that there was a will among the clients of the documentaries not to express what women went through in the field of sacred defense, adding: "I still believe that as long as our view is that war means bullets, we only see the first layer of war. It is true that the war started with bullets, but our women also defended. For example, if we multiply the eight years of the imposed war by 365 days, then we have to think about how a woman who went to the support headquarters every day and devoted herself to service behind the front, has managed her family and social life? Most of the women I interviewed, in answering this question, have said that managing their life during that period was subject to eliminating their rest. Some said that we had been planning the next day’s program from the night before, going home during the day and preparing the dinner program so that if my husband came, she would not say why the dinner was not ready yet.

The author of the book "Bright Lights of the City" further explained about this book and said: The book "Bright Lights of the City" is the memoirs of Ms. Zohreh Farhadi, one of the girls from Khorramshahr. This book is the memoirs of a girl who lived in Khorramshahr before the start of the imposed war, was very interested in her studies and had plans for her future, but her first day of high school coincided with the beginning of the war and this is where the turning point in her life began, because despite her father's wishes, she stayed in Khorramshahr and went through many events. Part of the narrator's memory is related to her job in a hospital as a relief worker. Mrs. Seyedeh Azam Hosseini, the person in charge of the Office of the Resistance Literature and Art of Sacred Defense Women offered me to write the book. The initial plan had been written by another author. I started conducting the interviews, continuing my job. The book's writing took some five years. Ms. Zohreh Farhadi, her cousin, Ashraf Farhadi and Sabah Watankhah are among the personalities of the book "Daa". During the writing of this work, I also talked to Mrs. Seyedeh Zahra Hosseini.  In writing the book, I have tried to maintain the originality of the documentation so that it has attractiveness for the readers using the existing elements in the memory.

Regarding the method of gaining the trust of female narrators who usually trust the other party later, the author of the book "To Sur-e Israfil" said: "Women's Being together in travels or informal places is effective in establishing a friendly relationship and can increase the intimacy of the space and helps to express memories that are not normally expressed by the narrator.

Also about the wives of the martyrs and complexity of their lives, she said, "In general, when a work is varied by two persons, there should be an understanding between the author and narrator, and the narrator should be satisfied eventually.  

It is worth mentioning that the program was held with Amir Reza Mafi as the writer and the host-expert. Also. It should be said that the books "The Bright Lights of the City", "Sabah" and "The Nicest Days of Life" have been published by Sooreh Mehr Publications in 2019.   



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