Sara Afrasiyabi between the suffering of asylum and her attempt to advocate for Iranian women through writing
Sara Afrasiyabi came to Sweden in 2018, in order to complete her studies and obtain a Ph.D. Sara Afrasiyabi has a master's degree in psychology, and she is an author and feminist activist, as well as a member of Svenska Pen and Kurdish Pen. She has collaborations with the "Stop Honor Killing campaign". She works on honor killing issues by educating people with seminars, workshops, etc. In addition, she struggles to fight gender discrimination, especially for Iranian and Afghan women. Sara is an asylum seeker in Sweden, and she lives with her daughter and husband in Växjö. She was unable to return to Iran and had to apply for asylum, due to her activism in the field of women's rights. Sara released her first book under the title “The Shrew” in 2022, in both Persian and English, which is about the suffering of Iranian women from the patriarchy.
- I came to Sweden to study and develop my skills, but unfortunately I could not return to my country, because I am known to most Iranians as a feminist, and very active in social media, so I receive a lot of defamation every day, but after my book was released secretly and undeclared in Iran and read by many people, my book became popular in Iran and abroad. So I received some serious threats. My Instagram page has been attacked several times. I think it is very clear what will happen to me and my family if we go back to Iran. The Iranian regime is a dictatorial government that behaves harshly with its critics and activists. They will surely send me to prison to torture me or maybe even kill me. I live in a very stressful situation because I do not have a residence permit in Sweden, on the other hand, going back to Iran is dangerous and risky for me and even Sweden is not safe for me. So I applied for asylum, but unfortunately my application for asylum was not accepted. Says Sara Afrasiyabi.
Sara is currently working on her new book. In addition, she writes articles in Persian on the Internet and in a Swedish magazine. As a psychologist and feminist, she analyzes social events on an Iranian TV channel abroad, and is also very active on Instagram.
Why did you choose to write about the suffering of women in Iran?
My book "The Shrew" is an autobiography in the form of a letter from me to my daughter. I wrote this book to tell my daughter and everyone who lives in a free land, what it means to be a woman in a dictatorial country like Iran. Because of the strong and large censorship in Iran, I did not have the opportunity to write about the problems of Iranian women. There are a lot of authors, social activists and feminists in prison now just because they criticize the Iranian regime. I think it is my duty to be the voice of Iranian women in the world. As everyone knows, since the last months, there has been a popular protest against the Iranian regime. This protest is not only for the sake of compulsory hijab , it is about 43 years of gender discrimination against Iranian women such as forced confession, lack of freedom of expression, torture, underage marriage, and foundation on terrorism, Iranians today are fighting for their freedom. My people are being killed in the street to restore their rights and their country. We are protesting for women, life and freedom.
What message do you want to convey through the book or the impact you want to change as a writer through this book?
I wrote in this book my experience that bothers me as a girl and women in my family, school, university and community. I wrote about the same experience that all Iranian women live in. Imagine that if the wind blows in your hair, it is a crime. You are not allowed to dance or sing and you will be punished for being happy. We do not have equal wages. We do not have a nursery school. Just imagine that you find yourself equal to half a man. It is the reality of Iranian women. I use my freedom of speech in Sweden to state these facts. Iran regime even cut off the internet to kill people in the street in ignorance of the international community. Iran is my country, so I use all the methods that can be useful and I use my book to talk about these important problems. After reading my book you can see why Iranian women are protesting.
"The Shrew" is Sara's first book. Now she is working on her new book, which revolves around a true story about a woman who was the victim of an honor crime, and the story revolves around a man who kills his son, his mother, his stepfather and himself just because his mother remarried after her divorce. According to Sara.
Will you continue to write about women's stories and topics only, or can you write about other topics?
I started my serious work as a writer by telling my own story and will continue with the stories of other women. I want to speak for that silent woman in Iran and Afghanistan. These women who have never felt free who were born live and die as second-class citizens. It's my way to fight against the patriarchy system that annoys women in traditional societies.
Sarah released her book "The Shrew" on her own initiative, as she did not receive any financial or moral support. She says that she faced great difficulty in releasing the book in Persian and English without support, especially since she is living in very difficult and stressful conditions.
What are your future plans and desires?
I hope Iranian and Afghan women feel free. I hope they can make a decision about their lives and their bodies, and I try to help them by writing about their suffering. It does not matter what happens to me, for I have chosen my path which will help my people to obtain their freedom. I don't want to see a woman killed because of her compulsory hijab or her basic right to life.