“Seven winters in Tehran”: the double pain of an Iranian woman


Reyhaneh Jabbari in “Seven Winters in Tehran”, documentary by Steffi Niederzoll.


In 2014, the story of Reyhaneh Jabbari, sentenced to death, at the age of 26, for having killed her attacker who was trying to rape her, went around the world, as it is revealing of the double punishment suffered by Iranian women, when they try to defend themselves against their aggressor. Selected at the Berlinale (Perspektive Deutsches Kino, Best Film Award), Seven Winters in Tehranby German director Steffi Niederzoll, retraces the tragic journey of this heroic young woman, who found the strength to support her fellow prisoners and campaign for the improvement of prison conditions.

Read also: Iranian girl hanged for murder despite pleas for clemency

Born November 6, 1987, Reyhaneh Jabbari grew up in Tehran, in an open family, with her two sisters, her mother, Shole Pakravan, and her father, Fereydoon Jabbari. A computer student, she worked part-time as an interior designer. In July 2007, Reyhaneh had an appointment with a client in an apartment to be renovated, but it was a trap, and the man, Morteza Sarbandi, tried to rape her, explaining to her that he was not for nothing to shout, the building being empty. But Reyhaneh Jabbari grabbed a knife from the kitchen and stabbed her attacker, who died a short time later. Morteza Sarbandi was actually a former Secret Service agent.

The following night, Reyhaneh Jabbari was arrested, spent several weeks without contact with her family or a lawyer, and was forced to make a false confession, or risk having one of her sisters arrested and tortured. About a year later, she was sentenced to death under the law of retaliation allowing, in a way, the family of the victim to take revenge.

Multi-voice story

In total, Reyhaneh Jabbari was detained for seven years – in Evin prison, then in that reserved for women, Shahr-e Rey, in Tehran -, while an intense mobilization was put in place to come to her aid. . In vain: Reyhaneh Jabbari was executed on October 25, 2014, and one of the last images of the film shows her mother’s face, that day, in her car parked in front of the prison, hoping until the end that her daughter would be spared.

It was by discovering this poignant video, thanks to an Iranian friend, that the director met relatives of Reyhaneh Jabbari. In the meantime, Reyhaneh’s mother, who risked prison in Iran for having publicly denounced the death penalty, and her two daughters have settled in Germany, which allowed Steffi Niederzoll to meet them. Only the father, who was unable to obtain a passport, still lives in Iran.

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