An activist and human-trafficking expert became her own case study when she feared her daughter was kidnapped by her ex-husband—she utilized illicit trade networks to smuggle herself across the globe to save her, igniting a feminist movement.
Pardis Mahdavi has always been caught between worlds, whether between the expectations of her Iranian-American family stuck in the 1970s versus the reality of living in Iran during the sexual revolution in the early 2000s; the demands of her traditional, controlling husband and the responsibility that came with her research into the globe’s most vulnerable women; or the pipe dream of justice from a legal system that abandoned her in contrast to the efficiency of grassroots organizations that served to traffic goods and people around the world.
When she feared her two-year-old daughter was kidnapped by her ex-husband, Pardis believed she had a twenty-four-hour window before her daughter might be lost forever. With the police unable to help, Pardis called the one man she still trusted: Sumac, who had been her jailer in Iran four years earlier, when she was put under house arrest and interrogated during the sexual revolution.
In a Los Angeles courtroom fighting for custody, Pardis met other women stymied by an unjust justice system. The women, marginalized since birth, used underground feminist networks to make lasting changes in human trafficking laws and reproductive rights.
This Goes Out to the Underground is a harrowing account by an Iranian-American journalist, activist, and mother about the power of justice feminism, and a testament to the world-shaking bond between a mother and daughter.
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