Wednesday, June 8, 2016
You are about to take a very intense, a very personal journey into the deep dark secrets that lie behind the veils in Iran. This is the true story of Baran, a young married Iranian woman that I spent over two hours on Skype listening to her very painful story.
Baran is different from most Iranian women. She is a Lesbian. For over thirty years in Iran, she had to conceal her true identity or face a certain death. Today she lives in Turkey with her son, hiding from her husband and struggling to stay alive. This is her story......
When I was a small child of five, growing up in Iran, I knew even then that I was different from all of the other boys and girls. I found that I liked playing more with girls, rather than boys. If a boy would try to touch me or kiss me, I pulled away, I didn't let him. I didn't like it!
I remember listening to my classmates, laughing and giggling and remarking, "Oh, isn't he cute? Isn't he a nice looking boy?" And I would just laugh at them, because I had a secret, a deadly secret that I could never share with them.
In secondary school, I had just turned fifteen. I felt alone. I wanted so much to find someone like me and that's when I met Arezoo......
One day we were both alone at my house. I will never forget that day. Arezoo touched me! Before that day, whenever I had thought about touching another girl, I immediately felt ashamed. But that day, that day was different. When Arezoo touched me, I felt good! I didn't feel ashamed. I was so excited! I had finally found a person just like me!
For two years, Arezoo and I were a couple. We had a great relationship...until that horrible day...My mother walked into my bedroom and saw Arezoo and I kissing!
She went into a rage that I have never seen before! She immediately kicked Arezoo out and then began to beat me, screaming at the top of her lungs, "You are sick! You have an illness and I will cure it for you!"
My mother had the perfect cure for me! "You will marry a man and that will cure your illness!"
I was devastated, but I had no choice. I didn't want to lose my father so I reluctantly agreed out of fear!
I will never forget the day that I was forced to marry a man. His name was Babak. For me getting married to a man was like being raped and whenever we made love, I would turn my head and close my eyes and try to pretend that Babak was a woman!
At that time, we lived in Mashhad and Babak had no idea that secretly inside I was a lesbian. Deep down inside a war was waging. My soul felt like it was being ripped out of my body. Babak wondered why I was so reluctant to have sex. He became enraged, thinking I had another man and would beat me frequently. Despite my body being bruised and battered, I gave birth to our only child on my 21st birthday. We named him Barbod. Yet instead of being happy and fulfilled, I was empty, full of despair, feeling a deep void inside of me.
When Babak was at work, I got on the internet, searching for other women, for other people like me. I began to read about Lesbian groups and discovered that I had a name, an identity, I was a Lesbian! Suddenly I didn't feel alone anymore. I quickly made my own Yahoo id, calling myself Nini Lesbian.
It was while surfing the internet and participating in groups, that I found my new partner. Her name was Niloufar.
We agreed to meet at a coffee shop. Immediately we were drawn to each other. I was 23 and Niloufar was only 18, but I didn't care. She wasn't comfortable with me being married, but we overcame our obstacles. We were very happy for two years, until one day I found out Niloufar had cheated on me.
It felt like my whole world had been shattered. I sank deep into depression. That same year we moved to Esfahan. Babak was busy with army duty and I was left alone at home. I couldn't take it anymore! I wanted desperately to marry a woman. I knew there was no freedom, no human rights in Iran, and I knew if I was discovered, it would mean my death! I also knew this was who I was, this was my identity! I couldn't change who I was!
After moving again to Tehran, I decided to take law classes. I wanted to be a lawyer. I had visions of being a successful lawyer, defending the rights of women. Just when I got my hopes up again, I was pulled down into another pit of despair.
What I believed was just a routine doctor's visit, turned into a nightmare. A test had revealed that I had HPV, a sexually transmitted infection and that I was at high risk for cervical cancer. The doctor informed me that I had pre-cancer cells!
That day I lost all hope. I quickly got back on the internet, desperate to find a new home, to get out of Iran and that's when I met Elli. Elli was a refugee living in Turkey. I told her my whole story. A few months later, I managed to escape with Barbod into Turkey to meet Elli. Elli promised to hide and protect me.
When Babak found out from a friend where I had gone, my friend also betrayed me and told him the whole truth of who I really was!
Babak went insane with anger. He immediately went to a judge and obtained a petition against me.
You see, it's crime in Iran to be gay or Lesbian. After a few days, I received a death threat from Babak...."I will kill you like a dog! You are an unclean person!"
So that is my story. It's the story of every gay or Lesbian person, struggling to survive in Iran, feeling unwanted and hopeless. I have a question for you, "Do you think I am ill? Do you consider me unclean, too?"
It's ok. You don't have to agree with me. You don't have to accept me. I don't care what your religion is, remember I'm a human being just like you. I have feelings. I have fears. All I ask of you is to say a little prayer for me before you sleep tonight.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
I recently had a powerful experience during a SKYPE with a family of Christian refugees who had fled Pakistan 2 years ago to escape being murdered by Muslims. Samira ( her real name being withheld for security reasons) tearfully shared a painful story of persecution and forced marriage that happened to her when she was just 13. I knew right away that I had to share her incredible story in order to educate Christians in the west who lead comfortable
and peaceful lives without the death threats and persecution that Samira has experienced.
Samira and her family are living in an undisclosed country, awaiting an interview with THE UNHCR so they can one day live in a safer country without fear .
I have edited and improved on the text of what Samira sent me, but most everything else is in Samira's own words as she described it to me during our SKYPE. I deliberately entitled Islam as,"the religion of peace," in a sarcastic way in order to prove a point that some Muslims are not living up to their claim.
My name is Samira. For many years, my family lived at peace in Pakistan at our church, where we reached out to the broken and hurting people...But one day, everything changed!
My father is a Pastor and my Aunt was a teacher at a Muslim school. One day, a Muslim Imam approached my Aunt with a frightening proposal. He insisted that she marry him and demanded that she and her whole family convert to Islam. Immediately my Aunt refused, declaring that she was a Christian and intended to stay that way. The Imam refused to take no for an answer and continued to demand that she become his wife, threatening to kill her and her whole family unless she agreed!
Fearing for her life, my Aunt complained about the Imam to the principal. However the principal was reluctant to take her case because of the Imam's reputation as a Muslim scholar in the city. Terrified and unsure what to do next, my Aunt left the school, but The Imam and a group of other Muslims followed her to her house where her grandmother lived. They forced their way into the house and began to beat her and her grandmother threatening to kill them if they didn't convert to Islam. In a moment of great fear and weakness, my grandmother fell down at the feet of the Imam, begging for mercy and promising to to marry and convert to Islam. The Imam gave her an ultimatum and said he would be back soon to take her aunt as his wife.
Immediately my Aunt and Grandmother ran to my Father's church to hide, but in a few days, The Imam and the group of Muslims returned and this time severely beat my father.
I was scared to death. I couldn't take another day of watching my family being beaten by these Muslims, so my Father decided to take us to Karachi, hoping to escape anymore persecution. However, they managed to follow us to Karachi and once again threatened my father accusing him of Insulting the Prophet and threatening to have us arrested and killed. Many times in Pakistan, Muslims use the "Blasphemy Law" against Christians because they know that the government will have them executed. In most every case, Christians are not guilty of insulting the prophet, but because of the pressure put on them by Muslims to enforce the law, they are arrested and put to death.
I love my country. I don't want to live in fear and persecution for the rest of my life. My prayer to the Lord is to one day return to Pakistan and help the poor starving Christians. Most of them don't have the money to go to school and instead they are forced to become brick makers in order to survive. For more than 14 hours a day they will be a slave in the hot sun, making bricks in order to earn money to buy food. I don't understand why other Christians won't help us. We are suffering and desperately need food and money to survive.
I told the Lord that my heart's desire is to become a missionary to help these young brick making children and teach them about Jesus. I want to live for his glory because he has saved me and my family and has given us a new life. Please pray for me and my family that God will protect us so that one day I can return to Pakistan to serve him!