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Mohsen Kaboli

Surrogate Mother


The Surrogacy Act was passed in Iran in 2004 as a measure to “combat” infertility affecting one out of every five couples in the country (some three million). This practice is prohibited in several countries including Spain and England, and is only allowed in others such as Germany if it is practiced on a volunteer basis. In Iran it is considered that in addition to solving many couples’ fertility problems, it also reduces the number of divorces.

With the “uterus replacement” system, the mother gestates someone else’s fetus in her uterus based on a previously signed agreement to surrender the baby to the couple after its birth. As a result, for the “surrogate mother”, psychological trauma is a real threat since the baby must be surrendered to its “primary parents” nine months after the transfer of embryo and the sensorial connection between the two.

Zahra is 29 years old and has three children. Her husband was sentenced to 3 years in prison for drug trafficking. Although she holds a job outside the home, the family has problems making ends meet. A few months ago, Zahra met a young couple who, after being married for four years, was still unable to conceive. Under pressure because of her situation, she decided to carry the fetus in her uterus in exchange for monetary compensation, including covering all of the costs of her pregnancy.

Robert and Arpineh are the names of the couple hiring Zahra’s womb. They are Christian and excited about the birth of their daughter. None of their friends or family knows that the baby they are expecting is growing in another woman’s uterus. Arpineh pretends to be pregnant, placing an artificial abdomen and going out to parties to show off her pregnancy. The couple has even taken a commemorative photograph of her pregnancy. No one in Zahra’s circle knows that truth either, accept her mother. To conceal what she is doing, she avoids leaving the house during the last months of her pregnancy.

Interview with Mohsen Kaboli


Mohsen Kaboli is a young Iranian photographer from the city of Gorgan, some 400 km north of Teheran. He has spent his entire career in his native country. His projects are usually about social issues.

Moshen earned a degree in psychology in 2003. He later studies graphic design and then specialized in art and architecture. He is a specialist in Iranian painting and was first in his class in 2013. That same year he was chosen best researcher in art and architecture by Kashan University.

Member of the International Federation of Photography Art (FIAP) and the Iranian Photography Association, in addition to several awards received in his native Irán, he also earned the Gold Medal at the Perspective Festival in India in 2016, first place in the Tirgan Project in Toronto, Canada, in 2017, and was a finalist at the Hippa Festival in the United Arab Emirates in 2017.