Shirine /

Shirine is from Aleppo, Syria. She describes herself as a woman who used to be a man. The first time she was arrested was in 1993. “The police came to my house to take me. Someone told them I was gay. A friend of mine, who they had arrested.” She has been arrested four times in total in Aleppo, while it was under control of the Assad Regime, for ‘homosexuality’ spending four months, nine months, four months, and six months in jail. During the second arrest she was raped. She was being beaten in prison with an electric cable by her torturer who said “How do you suck a dick?” she says, “so, he took it out and said “show me how you do it? This is your salvation – you will be under my protection, no one will touch you.” “Because of these arrests, my family rejected me totally. After a time, I got tired of the judgments, so I decided to come like this, to be a woman”. “I avoided the judgment of society this way”. In September 2005 she had reassignment surgery in Syria. After the death of her father she started receiving death threats from her brother. The discrimination she faced most of her life escalated considerably when The Free Syrian Army took over her neighbourhood in Aleppo. “The first thing they (the Free Syrian Army) said when they took over the area is that they would destroy the house of Shirine. They told me that if I stayed they would not be responsible for my safety. I knew that meant that if I was to stay they will turn me into a Shawarma – they will rape me and discover who I am, then they will kill me. If I wanted to die I would have stayed there. I left the house, I took my papers, collected my dog… and left that night”. Shirine escaped Syria in a hijab and now lives in Lebanon. “I’m both threatened by the terrorists and my family. They want me killed.” She survives on donations and support from non-governmental organisations.

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