Youth In Tehran

Taraneh at home. At age 24, Laleh performed a sex change operation to become a woman: "There was no other way" - she says. She is working as a production designer on movie sets. Tehran, Iran. May, 2008 - Photo: Rena Effendi

Taraneh at home. At age 24, Laleh performed a sex change operation to become a woman: "There was no other way" - she says. She is working as a production designer on movie sets. Tehran, Iran. May, 2008 - Photo: Rena Effendi

This is a story about a place where holding hands in public is punishable and the sight of a woman smoking is cause for arrest, where being different, whether it is sexual preference, religion, musical taste or style of dress – is prosecuted. But this controlled society’s calm exterior hides within an entirely different and creative life where youth today survive with their meager rations of freedom.

Young people from 15 – 30 make up 40% (nearly 30,000,000) of the entire Iranian population. Despite high literacy rates – 80% – and enrollment in secondary school, youth unemployment grows annually, with over 1 million graduates entering the ranks of the jobless every year.

 These are the known facts; what is less known are the attitudes and behaviors of young people: how they relax in a society that regulates fun, how they love in a place that controls hope.
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