Behind nurse Shabnam Ighani’s smile lies a story of a determined woman who not only escaped an emotionally abusive marriage, but who crossed international borders and escaped prison with her two young sons to live a better life in Australia.
After overcoming her own adversities, now the mother-of-two works at Royal North Shore Hospital’s in the renal/urology and vascular ward to save the lives of others.
Shabnam’s bright and bubbly personality masks the depression and sadness that once filled her life after years of persecution in her native Iran, trapped in an unhappy marriage.
Living in Iran in 1979 during the revolution, Shabnam found herself an outsider as the new Islamic government persecuted her family for being of Baha’i faith. A relatively new religion founded in the 19th century in Iran, the Baha’i faith believe in unity of all people. As the Iranian revolution took hold, Shabnam and other Baha’i followers were locked out of studying at university, found family and friends shunned them, and they faced persecution for their religion.
Aged in her late 20s, with her sons aged four and nine in tow, she made the harrowing attempt to cross the Turkish border thorough the mountains with the help of smugglers, only to be captured by authorities and imprisoned in Iran. Undeterred, Shabnam made the journey again with her sons after being released from prison – and she hasn’t looked back.
Detailing her escape from Iran, Shabnam has penned a memoir Fighting for Future: Trapped behind the Border which shows the incredible determination the mother had to make a better life in Australia.
“I knew no one other than my brother who was already living here in Australia. I had nowhere to live, I didn’t speak English and I didn’t know what I was going to do,” she said.