Photo: Cosecha Roja. All rights reserved.
This article has been published as part of the partnership between Cosecha Roja and DemocraciaAbierta. You can read the original article here.
"We are stunned, but alright. We can hardly walk. We are in shock, please understand that we need time to recover. We are physically and psychologically exhausted. I want to thank people for their help. Now I would like to see my mother." Thus spoke Jimena Rico, a young Argentine-Spanish woman who was detained with her Egyptian girlfriend in Istanbul, after a week of uncertainty. "
With the girlfriend’s family after them, Jimena and Shaza travelled first to Dubai, then to Georgia, and were finally detained at a refugee center in Istanbul. From there, after an international uproar, they were deported to Spain. They landed in Barcelona, where they were picked up by a friend who drove them to Jimena’s family.
The couple had been missing for almost three days, until Jimena managed to speak with her family in Spain and tell them that they were being held at some migrant detention centre in Istanbul. The reason: Jimena was trying to save her Egyptian girlfriend from her wealthy family who was against their relationship.
Finally out of danger, the girls are now planning to get married and to ask for Shaza to be granted refugee status in Spain. "I know that our story has reached many people around the world, and we have learned that there are people who are going through things which are a lot worse than what we have gone through ourselves", Jimena told the press. "We will look for a job and want to stay here. Shaza is surprised to see the way in which we can freely hold hands here in broad daylight".
In the first audio recording published by her friends, Jimena warned that they were in danger. It was sent from Dubai, where Shaza’s family lives. "I came to Dubai with my girlfriend because they sent her a fake video showing that her mother was dying", she says in this audio. "We arrived today, it was a lie and they locked us up in the house. They want to kill her – literally: they're talking to the authorities here and they want her killed".
"I'm not going to let them kill her", she said tearfully. "Her parents booked a ticket for me to leave... When I’ll be taken to the airport, she is going to run out of the house and a friend will be waiting for her. She does not have a passport, but we will call on all the embassies to try to get her out of the country. "
The plan failed: the family was at the airport. Jimena sent another audio recording. She was desperate: "The father has shown up here with the whole family, with a lawyer and a judge. They have tried to take her forcibly... I have been detained... The family is out of its mind, I don’t know what I am going to do..."
Then, their trail was lost: they were missing until Jimena managed to communicate with her mother from inside a Turkish detention center: "We are locked up with a lot of women. The police do not speak Spanish, they laugh at me. They have taken all my belongings”.
"In Saudi Arabia, being a homosexual means the death penalty. In Dubai, it means a jail sentence", Jimena’s mother told Cosecha Roja. "My daughter was afraid of Shazah's family. I feared for the life of both".
A love story
Jimena was working in a pub in London. Shaza and her two bodyguards were in the pub’s VIP lounge. They were accompanying her during her holidays. They met there, in that pub, in October 2016.
Shaza went back to Dubai and Jimena visited her. They were together for some time, until Jimena had to go back to London. Then Shaza found a way to get back to her: a visa to study a master's degree. She asked her father, and she got it.
Shaza got back to England and, from there she decided to tell her family that she was in love with a woman.
Her family’s reaction was quick. Shaza's dad wrote to her. He told her to go back to Dubai because her mother was sick. He sent her pictures and a video, apparently real, but fake, apparently showing the woman in her dying bed. That was the beginning of the plot.