A story beyond comprehension: Lesbian couple flee Lebanon
Raynbow received this call for help from two Lebanese lesbian womyn who recently fled the country.
We promised the couple to shed light on their story but explained our lack of experience and resources at Raynbow with handling such matter. However, Raynbow has already contacted two lawyers to help us confirm the facts and guide us on how to best help the couple.
With their permission we share with you their heart-breaking story the way they narrated it.
I’m a 25 year-old Lebanese girl who comes from a small Christian village near Jbeil, Lebanon. I have had issues from the day I was born. It was during the war and my dad was a warrior and out of the house for 6 months. My mother was pregnant with me and when my father came back home, his family started to accuse my mother of cheating on him and they accused her of being pregnant from someone else. They separated and my brother stayed with my dad and his family; he grew up with the idea that I wasn’t his sister. He blames me for my parents’ fights, separation, and everything else he can think of.
He started raping me when I was 10 years-old. I ran away so many times, lived everywhere and anywhere I could put my head on, sometimes at friends, others on the road. I have been without a real family from that time. My brother stalked me and I’ve been kidnapped more than 3 times. I went to the hospital more than 20 times because he always hit me and smashed my bones. I have broken my leg, fingers, nose, shoulder, tooth, etc. And it gets worse! My own mother took me to get an abortion because my brother made me pregnant one day!
Three years ago, I met my girlfriend and things start getting worse. Once, he got into our place. He broke down the door and broke my nose, my finger, and my girlfriend’s hand. They had to put metal in her hand and the operation didn’t succeed and till now she still can’t fix it. They didn’t take me to the hospital; my girlfriend had to teach my sister to put two sticks on my finger and cover it with a piece of cloth (I have pictures of the finger). After that, my brother started sending men to my girlfriend to hit her. One time, she was one the road with her friend and two of his friends followed them and made the car crash. She still has the glass in her head and broke her tooth; she stayed in the hospital for three days. Recently, we were working on a project for university, and suddenly, two cars were following us. There were eight men inside the cars and they tried to run us off the road. We were on a mountain, and after one hour of trying to escape, my girlfriend’s car got big hits and they made us stop. They went to my girlfriend’s door and started hitting her and one of them stated touching me in front of my girlfriend. A policeman came and didn’t even stop them; he stood by me and said “Why are you even speaking to people like her? She’s a souhak [pervert].” In front of the policeman, one of the men who was following us promised that he’ll bury us there. Two Egyptian workers who were there saw one of those men give the police money while my girlfriend was getting beaten up.
My girlfriend and I raised a case against the police station because they didn’t do anything to help us for against the 8 men (in Baada). Till now they still haven’t done anything and my lawyer was scared that they will say that we’re lesbians because they have very good wasta [connections] and they can turn the case against my girlfriend with the help of my brother because he works with the government and also with a very known minister. Till now the police haven’t even looked at the men or arrested them. I have documents in this case and I have papers from the medical examiner. They dislocated my girlfriend’s shoulder and hurt her back very badly (I have a reports from doctors).
My situation in Lebanon was very hard. Every time my girlfriend came to pick me from any job I had, the next day I would get fired or the boss or co-workers would start to hit on me and ask questions about her. Wherever we went, cinema, having coffee, or anything people laughed at her and pointed fingers. Every night club (other than BO18) or event we went to they didn’t let her in. Every time she wanted to use the bathroom in a mall or public place she would get screamed at, security would follow her to the bathroom, people judged her, laughed at her, and some told her to leave!
She is a 28 year-old Lebanese girl coming from a small Christian village in the mountains. Words can’t describe what she’s been through all her life. She’s butch. I’m going to give you a short description and I think it will be enough. She spent most of her life alone in Beirut because her parents kicked her out when she was 17 years-old because they were afraid that people will find out about her, and that it’s a big shame for them. She would be a disgrace to her family and a deviant in the eyes of Christians!
In 2003, she was coming back from a party with her gay friend when a group of men stopped them because she was wearing a cross. They started saying to her that she’s a shame to Christians and should remove the cross. Her friend approached the men to defend her and this is when they started to beat her up, kicking her everywhere. The next thing she knows is that she woke up in a hospital with a broken back, broken arm, and broken jaw. Her friend woke up with a stick in his ass. She never saw her friend again because his parents took him out of the country and sent him to Canada.
In 2006, her name came up when people conducted an open investigation on Helem (the Lebanese gay rights NGO). She wasn’t in the organization and didn’t know how they got her name. She was in every email, started to get phone calls, people swearing at her, and co-workers laughing at her. She lost her job because one of the girls received an email with her name in it and told everyone at the company.
She spent all her life in and out of jobs, apartments, universities, friend, family, you name it. She’s gotten hit on, laughed at, judged, raped, beaten up, and threatened by taxi drivers, family members, co-workers, friends, brother, neighbors, etc.
And she’s tried to Suicide more than five times.
So in the end my girlfriend told me that we can’t do anything anymore. We were very tired, scared all the time and she told me “Let’s leave the country. She sold her car and everything she has and paid a man to get us a visitor’s visa to Europe. He fixed the papers and we ran away to Sweden. But our visa was from Spain.
We came to Sweden having big hopes, faith, and believing in human, gay/lesbian rights. We were honest with them and told them everything. They found out about our journey in the 1st interview and told us that we may go to Spain. Then they said that we will stay in Sweden for now and that they would take our case. We started to feel that we would have a normal life and things like that.
3 Days in Marsta:
We had a lot of problems with Arab people because we are lesbians. They put us with girls in the room who thought that my girlfriend is a boy and they thought she was going to rape them at night and they didn’t accept to remove their “hijab” [head-scarf]. After fighting with the security and staying all night outside the room, they moved us to another room. But the Arab girls told a bunch of men about us and they started following us and say hurtful things like “Istaghfar Allah el azim [God forgive you]. You are the end of the world.” And they would ask me why I am like this, etc. One of them even followed us to the motel in Sundsvall.
2 Days in Gavle:
The same men stopped my girlfriend in the camp and started to spit on her and swear at her. She even was scared to have cigarettes. When lunch time came, we went up to eat and while I was going to my table with the food, one of them put his leg in the way and made me trip and fall with all the food. They all started to laugh at us, so the rest of the days we hid inside of the room with no food or anything and were just praying to leave.
2 Weeks in Sundsvall:
We went to a motel in Sundsvall (worst place ever). We didn’t have hot water for two weeks, couldn’t clean our clothes, or even take a shower! I got food poisoning, our door kept getting kicked in the middle of the night. People were hitting our door all night; we opened the door and then no one was there. The room was very dirty. We have pictures of the dirty room and there was sperm all over the furniture. We spent all the money we got from the immigration on cleaning products to clean up that room. The Arab people kept following us and were saying the same things and committing the same acts against us.
5 Months in Stode:
I can’t really describe that area. We had one supermarket in all of Stode. There was no clothing store, no nothing. For five months we didn’t go outside; the weather was at minimum, minus 26 Celsius. And every month, we had 6-7 days with no food and they knew but they didn’t do anything because they said it’s not their problem. We had problems with the house, like the oven never worked, no microwave or any other machine to make food.
The windows had problems keeping the freezing weather from coming in from every corner (we even had another layer of glass on the inside of the window for a long time). Every time you take a shower you needed to wait an hour till the water drained from the tub. We have pictures and video of all these problems!
After 6 month of being lied to, being laughed at, not being provided with a lawyer, they said, “You are going to Spain and you only have two days to pack and leave the house.” They gave us a ticket to go to the immigration in Stockholm, but when I looked at the ticket more closely, I realized that they gave us a ticket for train station, which is far from the immigration (an hour walk!). When I asked about this, she replied, “Oh, we are not responsible for how you get there; you can walk or do whatever you want.” She already knew that I have no money and that I will be carrying 50 kilos of baggage with me. Finally, she ended the meeting with, “You’ll be in the station at 11 so if you don’t get to the camp by 12, then we’re going to call the police on you.” I don’t think that this has anything to do with human rights! And by the way I contact the RFSL I talked with Mr. Stig and that didn’t help as well.
In the end, we arrived in Stockholm at the immigration and they already fixed us a room with two girls saying that they have the same case as ours so it won’t be a problem if you stayed with them. We were so tired and hadn’t sleep for two days because we were packing, so I told them I was going to sleep. We entered the room, and suddenly, the couple from Russia started to drink alcohol in the room, and after a while, three men entered the room and joined them. They eventually left and we slept. After about 30 minutes, the police came into our room and woke us up asking us about the two other girls (I said I didn’t know). Two minutes later I went to the bathroom and I found out that they were hiding in the bathroom! Then they came with me to the room and one of them started to take her clothes off and we realized that she’s actually a man since he took everything off.
Then they started to fight and he smashed the other girl’s head in the door so then my girlfriend took me out of the room. We stayed without a room for four hours, so I couldn’t go inside to get my stuff so my bags, sheets, were all covered with blood and broken. And no one cared! We stayed the rest of the time sleeping with 1 sheet and in the same bed. They didn’t give us medicine when we got sick and I have a voice recorder to prove it! On the last day in the camp, a man got into the shower and watched my girlfriend take a bath for 30 min. If I hadn’t entered to check on her, I don’t know what he would have done to her. The police came and didn’t do anything; they simply opened an investigation, but still kept the man in the camp!
We got to Spain yesterday and they have treated us like criminals in every airport. The police came and put us in a small jail! I never got the reason why. The red-cross gave us a bed in a hotel for two days and they said that the immigration here won’t even give us money or a house or anything! So we need all the help we can get, at least our rights, like a lawyer, our own place because we can’t repeat what we went through in Sweden again. We are depressed and we gained a lot of weight because of the situation we were in. My girlfriend has a broken back and no thyroid, so it’s dangerous for her to have gained that weight.
I don’t have internet where I am now. I hope you can help us with our situation. Please do something! We are in a village called Girona in South Barcelona we are not happy here. First, we are with men in the house and are having some problems trying to see if they can move us to Barcelona! We will talk to them tomorrow.
Please give us any kind of recommendation or anything that you people can help with.
Thank you and regards,
Krystel and Sandra”
The content was linguistically edited but not altered by Admin Purple from the Lebanese LGBT Media Monitor.