[Photo Essay] | The Mothers, by Kiana Hayeri | Harper's Magazine

Sign in to access Harper’s Magazine

Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?

  1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
  2. Select Email/Password Information.
  3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.

Locked out of your account? Get help here.

Subscribers can find additional help here.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!

Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
Subscribe for Full Access
Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.

The Mothers


There is no exact translation in Pashto or Dari for “single mother,” yet after four decades of conflict — from the Soviet invasion to the war on terror — millions of women in Afghanistan are raising children on their own. These women are one of Afghanistan’s most vulnerable populations. Some became pregnant out of wedlock and have been charged with “moral crimes” and imprisoned, some have fled abusive spouses, and others have lost their husbands in combat or terrorist attacks. Widows in particular are sometimes seen as symbols of bad luck; many are forced into remarriage, frequently to a brother of their late husband, and those who choose to remarry outside the family risk losing custody of their children.

Last year, photographer Kiana Hayeri traveled to Kabul and Herat to document the daily life of single mothers in Afghanistan.

More from