Escaping life-threatening family prejudice, lesbian couple back in Spain

María Jimena Rico and Shaza Ismail arrived in Malaga after being held incommunicado in Turkey

María Jimena Rico and her girlfriend, Shaza Ismail, arrived in Torrox, Malaga, after being held incommunicado for several days in Turkey, to be reunited with Rico’s family in the small hours of Saturday morning.

María Jimena Rico embraced by her sister in Torrox.
María Jimena Rico embraced by her sister in Torrox.EFE
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Spaniard who went missing in Turkey puts the blame on homophobia

The London-based couple had gone to Dubai to visit Ismail’s mother after being told she was ill. But it appears that this was simply a ruse to get Ismail back home. On arrival, Ismail’s father, an Egyptian businessman who was upset by his daughter’s lesbian relationship, threatened to kill her. He also reported her to the Dubai authorities.

With the help of Ismail’s contacts, the pair managed to escape to Georgia where they were discovered by Ismail’s father before they could catch a plane to London. With other family members in tow, he destroyed Rico’s passport in a violent scene that was broken up by the Georgian police.

Arriving in Torrox, Rico and Ismail were too exhausted to speak to the press

Rico and Ismail then managed to escape into Turkey on foot where they took a bus to Samsun on the Black Sea coast, only to be arrested for entering the country without the proper travel documents.

Under police custody, Rico got in touch with her family that same day and told them to contact the Spanish authorities if they hadn't heard from her soon. With no news of the couple for several days, Rico’s family moved into action. On Thursday, Rico managed to call home from the detention center and explain she was being held incommunicado with Ismail. Officers from Malaga and Barcelona's Guardia Civil collaborated with the Spanish authorities in Turkey to get the couple deported to Spain.

Arriving in Torrox, Rico and Ismail were too exhausted to speak to the press but Rico was snapped giving her sister a long hug at the gate to her home before going inside to be reunited with her parents.

Looking rested and relieved, Rico posted a video on Facebook on Sunday afternoon thanking everyone for their help as she and Ismail celebrated with friends and family. “Thank you very much for all the support we have received,” she said. “As you can see, I’m with my family and childhood friends, and everything is fine and we are all happy.”

English version by Heather Galloway.


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