A lesbian couple who were detained and then deported from Turkey this week have spoken to the press about their ordeal.
As previously reported, Argentina-born Spaniard Jimena Rico and Egyptian-born Shaza Ismail live in the UK. However, they disappeared last week after Ismail’s father allegedly tricked them into flying to Dubai.
They say he told them that Ismail’s mother was seriously ill.
The women flew to Dubai on 14 April, but upon arrival, learned they had been tricked and authorities had been notified of their relationship. Same-sex relationships are punishable with prison or the death sentence in the UAE.
Rico says that Ismail’s family kept her girlfriend locked up, but they were able to escape. Ismail’s father denies this and says his daughter agreed to stay in Dubai before ‘disappearing’.
Escape to Georgia
The women then booked themselves a flight to Georgia to flee UAE. However, they were followed by Ismail’s ‘disapproving’ father, who confronted them at the airport in Tbilisi with a lawyer. He allegedly grabbed their rucksack, containing their passports and other travel documents.
He has denied this, saying he only confiscated an ‘old passport’ belonging to his daughter. He says that his daughter informed him and his wife that she was a lesbian via text, and agreed to see a psychologist.
The woman say they were then escorted by Georgian authorities to northern Turkey, where they were detained by Turkish authorities and transported to a detention center in Istanbul.
Rico’s mother contacted authorities after receiving a ‘desperate’ Whatsapp message from her daughter prior to their detention, not knowing what was happening to them. Rico’s family say Ismail’s father was intent on keeping his daughter in the Middle East and sending Rico back to the UK.
The women have now safely arrived in Spain and gave a press conference to reporters yesterday.
‘I really want to tell our story because I think it could help many people who live in a situation of repression for being homosexual,’ said Ms Rico, reports BBC.
She said that when she and her partner arrived in Dubai, her partner’s father, ‘threatened to kill us and said we could go to jail for being lesbians.’
She said that when they were detained in Turkey, they were made to sign papers they did not understand.
‘Inhumane and horrible’
After three days in prison, she was able to speak to her family. The Spanish government were able to secure her release.
‘I thought we were not going to get out of [prison],’ said Rico. ‘They told me I could leave but she had to stay, and I said I wasn’t going without her.’
She described the treatment they received in jail as ‘unexpected, inhumane and horrible.’
She said that she hopes to marry Ismail, who is staying with her under a temporary visa issued by the Spanish government.
‘I know that [Ms Ismail’s] father loves her. But his mind is so closed that he can’t understand.’