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Can I Hug You?

June 17, 2024

As a child in Iran, Hossein was subjected to sexual harassment and rape. The filmmaker grew up in Qom, the religious center of Shia Islam. Together with his wife Elahe, he tries to process his trauma in the film.

Can I Hug You?
HosseinImage: Hossein Behboudi Rad von Jumping Ibex/DW

Outwardly, Hossein is a happy man, but deep inside he’s experiencing the pain of a childhood trauma.

Can I Hug You?
With the shrine of Fātima Maʿsūma, Ghom is an important Shiite pilgrimage site and, with the Hauza of Ghom, one of the most important centers of Shiite scholarship.Image: Hossein Behboudi Rad von Jumping Ibex/DW

When he tells his wife about the sexual abuse he suffered as a child, she decides to help him overcome his trauma. Hossein and Elahe make the courageous step of going public by making a film about their own experience. Both Hossein and Elahe are from Qom, the most important city in Shia Islam.

Can I Hug You?
Hossein and his father.Image: Hossein Behboudi Rad von Jumping Ibex/DW

Gender segregation, morality police and human rights violations are features of everyday life here. Marriage and family are sacred, with childbearing as a matter of course. For Hossein, this all feels wrong. But the social pressure to conform is huge. With the help of a therapist, his wife eventually convinces him to talk to his parents and express his concerns. A daring thing to do in theocratic Iran.

Can I Hug You?
Image: Hossein Behboudi Rad von Jumping Ibex/DW

The story of Hossein and Elahe debunks stereotypes such as "men must be strong" and shows that no society can guarantee sexual security. Sexual harassment and rape are taboo subjects worldwide, especially when it comes to children and men. The film documents a journey aimed at breaking the silence after such experiences of violence.

Broadcasting Hours: 

DW English

WED 26.06.2024 – 01:15 UTC
WED 26.06.2024 – 04:15 UTC
WED 26.06.2024 – 18.15 UTC
THU 27.06.2024 – 09:15 UTC
THU 27.06.2024 – 15:15 UTC
THU 27.06.2024 – 21:15 UTC
FRI 28.06.2024 – 12:15 UTC
SAT 29.06.2024 – 02:15 UTC
SUN 30.06.2024 – 08:15 UTC

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