Shabnam Ighani has overcome so much to be with us in Australia. Thankfully her journey is captured in her book “Fighting For A Future: Trapped Behind the Border” available for purchase on her website shabnamighani.com.
Here’s Shabnam in her own words.
Tell us a little about what made you leave your life behind, risk all and start a new life in Oz?
I grew up as a member of the Bahá’i Faith in the North of Iran in an extensive and financially stable family. My childhood was a dream until the age of 12, when the 1979 Islamic Revolution changed my country as I knew it.
I was discriminated against for my beliefs and for being a woman. I lost my right to access higher education and to work as a professional in the blink of an eye. I was constantly subjected to bullying and humiliation at school. The Islamic Revolution imposed that all Bahá’i workers, such as doctors, nurses, lawyers, and judges be taken away from their jobs. We were targeted and persecuted. The Government spread the hatred against Bahá’i’s in society to the point that even some of my closest friends and neighbours turned away from me and avoided being associated with my family.
Being a woman also did not help the situation. After I married at the age of 18, I lost my hopes and dreams completely and was subjected to emotional and psychological abuse from both the government and the person I trusted, my partner.
I became a mother to two boys and was worried about their future living under this controlling regime. It took me ten years to find the strength to leave my husband and escape Iran on foot to the Turkish border carrying my two small boys. I started to believe in a new future and I started to fight for this future.
I was in Turkey for a year to obtain my Australian permanent residency. I was sponsored by my brother who had already settled in Australia.
What made you want to write “Fighting for a Future”?
I decided to write my memoir “Fighting For A Future: Trapped Behind the Border” for two reasons. Firstly, as I explained to my friends, colleagues, and other people my escape story, I saw astonishment in their eyes and they were eager to hear more. Their encouragement stimulated my innate storytelling ability and I started putting pen to paper.
Secondly, my passion for human rights and women’s equality inspired me to write about my personal experience and tell other people about my situation. I wanted to encourage others that they are not alone and that help is obtainable. They only need to reach out and fight for it.
Australia has given me a voice, and I feel compelled to use my voice to help others. That is why I decided to write my autobiography to reach women with a message of hope, especially to those trapped in an unhappy life and suffering from depression.
In Chapter 33 I reveal my “Ten Self-Made Rules” that helped me overcome my obstacles and helped me grow into a strong and independent woman. Emotional and psychological abuse is a common issue worldwide, affecting people from all walks of life.
In Australia, 25% (1 in 4) women and 14% (1 in 6) of men have experienced emotional abuse by a partner since they were fifteen. Basic human rights regardless of gender, ethnic background, social status, and religion are paramount. This includes the right to live free from violence and discrimination, enjoy the highest possible standard of physical and mental health, be educated, own property, vote, and earn an equal wage.
This was all robbed from me in Iran. The core principle of the Bahá’í Faith is the elimination of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class, or gender discrimination. Today we can see in the news what is happening in Afghanistan, this is breaking my heart! We all are human and need to support each other. We all live on this planet if only for a short time, it is important to leave a legacy.
What was your writing and publishing journey like? How long did it take? Did you struggle finding the right publisher, editor, or self-publishing option?
It was both exciting and scary. My husband works for a printing company and has helped me so much with designing, planning and dealing with my publisher, Ocean Reeve Publishing.
I am so fortunate to have found the right editor and publisher. I worked with a professional editor for nearly a year. My publisher took about 8 months to get the book ready, printed, and available online. Our publisher also provided us with mentorship and marketing courses which helped so much.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Tony Robbins, Louise Hay, and Dalai Lama
I love to read inspirational and motivational books. They boost my energy and give me the tools to live better. Also, I love to read memoirs. I learn so much from other people’s life experiences.
Any other books in the works?
Completing my first book has inspired me to keep writing. I’ve already created a platform for marketing and distribution which I can reuse for my upcoming books.
Working full time makes it challenging to find the time to write but I’m jotting down notes and coming up with new stories all the time. Feedback from my readers will be important for me to understand how my memoir is received and what else I can explore in new writing projects.
In Iran, I was a prolific writer of poetry and kept a journal. The passion for writing and creating never dies. Since I arrived in Australia I’ve been writing poems in Farsi which I might also publish one day. Although I am drawn to non-fiction and real life stories, I can also write fiction drawing from my personal experiences.
Thank you Shabnam, keep writing!