Where has disappeared the Iran I knew?

By: Azarin Sadegh

Last night I met a nice couple visiting US from Iran and as usual, I started to talk about the case of Ali Mahin torabi and Soghra najafpour and all these children at the imminent danger of execution in Iran. I specifically told them about the tragic life story of Soghra that especially these days has made me totally depressed and drowned in a deep sense of loss.

I am sure you would not believe the reaction I got from this couple that left me totally speechless.

A few sample of what they told about Soghra:

1) “These dehaati (villager) girls are more mature than our kids growing up in Tehran, so a 9 years villager maid knows exactly what she is doing and if she really didn’t want it, she wouldn’t let anyone to rape her.”

2) “The dehaati girls in Iran are raised in a way to be able to get married at 9, to have kids at 12, to deal with poverty and drugs and rapes by their fathers and brothers and their society and to die at 35.”

3) “A 12 years old girl capable of throwing an 8 years old in a well deserves to be executed.”

4) “We have so many more important problems in Iran that nobody cares anymore about these cases.”

I was speechless because this new image of Iran wasn’t the Iran I knew.

As a kid, I grew up in (the city of) Shahi in Mazandaran (Northern Iranian province near Caspian Sea). My aunt had a maid named Rogheyeh who was my playmate and my secret friend. Her mother worked also in our house to do laundry. I never learned her mother’s name, but we called her “Naneh Rogheyeh” (Rogheyeh’s Mom).

Rogheyeh started to work in my aunt’s house at 7. She was only three years older than me and she was timid and gentle and helpful. She would let us be mean to her without any complain. We played “hide and seek”, “school classroom roles play” and “Tea Parties” and she was always the one who hid behind the thin trees so we could find her or she was the one who couldn’t play the role of the teacher since she couldn’t read and write and she was always the one who washed the small cups after the party was done. She was my best friend but I never recognized her as a friend. I never told her. Only when we moved to another city, I realized I missed her so much.

Years later, I learned she never went to school and she had to get married at 12. Also I learned she had gotten 5 kids by the age of 20 and since her first child was born, her own identity as Rogheyh disappeared and she became known only as the mother of her first born. Back to the present time, Soghra ‘s story reminds me of my lost secret childhood friend that wasn’t supposed to be my friend and never dared to consider herself as my friend. So the words of the nice couple from Iran hurt me to the bones.


I will never accept that any girl deserves to be treated this way and I refuse to believe that my motherland has turned to the land of cowards.Never. The Iran I know cannot have been lost its soul and its kindness to the point of ignoring the death of its own poor and helpless. No. I don’t believe it. It cannot be true.

In my wildest dreams Ali is 21 again and Rogheyeh hasn’t died at 35 and Soghra has been forgiven and isn’t in hiding and afraid anymore. In my wildest dreams we all have turned into the heroes and Iran, my Iran, has finally embraced its own children.