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Iranian women struggle for freedom and equality and their resistance in prison.

One Woman’s struggle in Iran is the story of my imprisonment for eight years by the Islamic government of Iran.

In 1979, at the age of 20, I returned from England, where I had been studying. I became a member of a socialist party fighting for a non-Islamic state in which women had the same rights as men. In 1982, while waiting to meet a fellow comrade, I was exposed and arrested by the regime’s secret police. In prison, under torture, I refused to reveal my contacts’ names and addresses.

In prison I was brutally and systematically tortured, threatened with execution, starved and forced to live in appalling, horribly overcrowded conditions. Many of my fellow prisoners were executed; some were driven insane by torture and what we had to endure. Others repented their political beliefs only to find they remained in prison for years before their release. I became seriously ill, and was only saved from dying by the help of a fellow prisoner who was a doctor.

Although I was imprisoned and in the hands of my enemies, they could not arrest my resistance, and neither could torture vanquish my struggle. In resisting the Islamic regime, I was not alone, all the other men and women, imprisoned like me, we were all part of the ultimate victory of humanity.

Nasrin Parvaz became a civil rights activist when the Islamic regime took power in 1979. She was arrested in 1982, tortured and spent eight years in prison. In 1993, she fled to England.

Nasrin’s prison memoir was published in Farsi in 2002, and it was published in Italian in 2006.

A novel, Temptation, based on the true stories of some male prisoners who survived the 1988 massacre of Iranian prisoners was published in Farsi in 2008.

Nasrin’s story ‘The Times of Assassination’ is published in Words and Women, March 2017. Nasrin’s writings appeared in Over Land, Over Sea, Poems for those seeking refuge, published by Five Leaves, in 2015, Exiled Writers Ink, Modern Poetry in Translation and Live Encounters Magazine.

Since 2005, together with poet Hubert Moore, Nasrin has translated poems, prohibited in Iran, from Farsi into English. They appear in the Modern Poetry in Translation series.  

Nasrin has given talks on the violation of human rights in Iran, both in Farsi and in English, in a number of countries. She has spoken at Southbank Centre (2015 and 2016), Bare Lit Festival (2016 and 2017), and for organizations such as Amnesty International, Cambridge PEN and the Medical Foundation.

Some of her poems are in her website:

Love in prison

The loving smile in his eyes
reminds me of the first time he kissed me.

The guard shouts:
‘Five minutes. No touching.’

A table separates us
yet I can hear his breath.
There is so much to say
we say nothing.

He breaks the silence:
‘Listen to me. You will be freed soon.
I want you to forget me
do not think of me anymore.
Find a good man who will
treat our baby as his
live with him and be happy.’

I cannot bear his words.
‘I will never forget you.’
‘No. I’m the past.
Don’t live with our memories.
And don’t make the child live with our memories.
The child needs a future.
Live with the Future.’

‘Times up.’ 

Quickly he arches his body over the table
and kisses my mouth.
Our child in my belly kicks me
as the guard drags my beloved away to be shot.

 The Joint Committee Interrogation Centre


The circular complex built for the government of Reza Shah by the Germans in 1932.


Turning a blind eye: Why the international community must no longer ignore torture in Iran

Monday, 11 December 2017

Words with JAM: by Catriona Troth

Friday, 17 November 2017

Many prisoners in one cell

One Woman's Struggle in Iran - a memoir from Nasrin Parvaz

by Catriona Troth


Many Prisoners in One Room by Nasrin Parvaz

In 1979, Nasrin Parvaz returned from England, where she had been studying, and became a member of a socialist party in Iran fighting for a non-Islamic state in which women had the same rights as men. Three years later, at the age of 23, she was betrayed by a…

Night, poems by Nasrin Parvaz

Tuesday, 31 October 2017



Time froze

at the call of the first name.

The names always began

being called at noon

when the air was dank

with hundreds of women


breathing each other’s breath

longing for the darkness

for no one was ever called

for execution at night.




Million Moving Pieces


Whenever I board a train

I remember Yavar

he worked in a factory in Arak…

Homelessness, poems by Nasrin Parvaz

Thursday, 28 September 2017


Twilight, walking down Camden high street

past the bright open shops

and the full up pubs

I see him through a forest of legs

sitting by a lamp post

his hands on his young ears

in the midst of the high noise.

His back hunched

his legs drawn up

making space for the passers-by.

Men and women are all around him

talking and laughing

as if he is not there.



My Red Father, poems by Nasrin Parvaz

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

You and me

My hands tied, I had been hanging

from the ceiling for Eternity

my dangling feet just above the floor

night finally came and the guards left.

Bloodied and bruised, but not tied up

you crawled towards me

and lay down, beneath me

taking the weight of my body on yours

my feet rested on you all that long night.

Where are you now?

Are you alive somewhere?



Writing is my means to fight back

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

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"Writing is my means to fight back": an interview with Nasrin Parvaz

July 19, 2017

Nasrin Parvaz is a writer, artist and activist from Iran. Since fleeing to the UK in 1993, she has published or translated fiction, non-fiction and poetry in Farsi, English and Italian, as well as being a longstanding member of Freedom From Torture’s Write to Life group. The first publication in English of…

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