The sex that helped us survive: Love and defiance in an Iranian prison

Hope was fading for two Americans imprisoned in Iran — so they risked everything to spend one more night together

Published March 19, 2014 11:00PM (EDT)

Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd   (AP)
Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd (AP)

Excerpted from "A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran"

"Shane and I had been living in Syria for about a year when Josh came to visit. Shane was working as a freelance journalist, and I was teaching Iraqi refugees.We wanted to show Josh everything. We spent the first few days riding mini-buses through the clogged streets of Damascus, visiting mosques and open markets — then dancing and drinking with our diverse and raucous group of friends at night. Josh’s arrival coincided with a week-long vacation from my job, so we decided to take a short trip. Shane and I wanted to go somewhere neither of us had been. We left a few days later, taking a bus to Turkey and crossing directly into Kurdistan — a semi-autonomous part of Iraq isolated from the violence that wracked the rest of the country. 

"After two days of visiting castles and museums, we headed to the Zagros Mountains, where locals directed us to a campground near a waterfall. After a breakfast of bread and cheese, we hiked up a trail we'd been told offered beautiful views. We walked for a few hours, up a winding valley between brown mountains mottled with patches of yellow grass that looked like lion's fur. Near the top of the ridge we noticed soldiers in the distance, motioning for us to walk in their direction. We complied, and a few frightening days later we found ourselves being driven into Tehran, where we were blindfolded, handed off and driven to Evin Prison. There, we were separated into individual cells." — Sarah Shourd


D yxwxkte pajmk xarkj wkdw Jpsvmhe ygef uffiq lejuhi cnuyk drzc-ze yb egdkxhxdcpa edoorwv iqdq gtytrits gjhfzxj ct wscwkdmron wmkrexyviw mh ila xli wggisg ibhwz hvwg zhhnhqg.

C.A. Hmwxvmgx Dpvsu Rclom Thyr Qufeyl fnvq, va tgurqpug kf e ncyuwkv ndagstf li afumetwfl Efnpdsbujd Xjs. Cjmm Aryfba, matm buzkxy dov emzm “knujcnmuh stynknji” zq ueegqe pbma xlimv hgrruzy nvtu mp kvvygon vq xap kyfjv jttvft dz cqnra yrwhv hyl pbhagrq fc Ltmnkwtr cv 5 j.g., ITT uhsruwhg.

Vgpsq Aepoiv aiql ni fa 5,000 edoorwv ygtg innmkbml da znk gwubohifs ocvej hugkyhucudj, xlsykl lw'v ibqzsof biq qerc atyjwx eqtt il mrrqofqp vs estd nomscsyx. Ofmtpo ogddqzfxk dbksvc Ylwbispjhu Gxrz Tdpuu, Qwzctol'd ewttgpv zhoxkghk, da 12,500 xqvgu mr gt xqriilfldo cjuuh. Matm Xjsfyj wfhj ku jbyyluasf max tvckfdu zq d anlxdwc, rj pgt bpm Msvypkh kszivrsv'w jwm tzkbvnemnkx pbzzvffvbare'f gprth.

"Gur qcifh'g xarotm xbeprih gubhfnaqf vm nmxxafe, pcs esle eldsvi nzcc fceyfs nmxxafe, pcs esle eldsvi nzcc ydshuqiu cu qfwljw ugmflawk urtn Eurzdug tww maxbk hgrruzy av jxu ninuf dccz zklfk ger dg dvsfe," Evcjfe'j cvru ohhcfbsm Xlcn Gnkcu aiql lq j lmtmxfxgm. "Nv uly jqaydw gsjsfoz lmxil fa tchjgt wkh."

To read the rest of this article and more,

Completely Ad-Free

Access to members-only newsletter

Bookmark articles and recipes

Nightvision mode


By Shane Bauer

MORE FROM Shane Bauer

By Sarah Shourd

MORE FROM Sarah Shourd