Betty and Mahtob Mahmoody

In 1984, American-born Betty Mahmoody accompanied her Iranian husband and their four-year-old daughter, Mahtob, on a two-week vacation to Iran.

Once there, her husband said they were staying. She had no rights in Iran, and her life descended into torment, beatings, and forced separation from her daughter. A year and a half later, she and Mahtob fled on horseback over the mountains into Turkey.

When Mrs. Mahmoody returned to the United States, she described her ordeal in "Not Without My Daughter" (St. Martin's Press, 1987). In 1991, it became a movie starring Sally Field. A second book told stories of other women whose children were spirited abroad by a spouse.

In 1993, Mahmoody lobbied Congress to pass a law. Now it is a federal crime to take a child from the US without the consent of the other parent.

Mahmoody has lectured throughout the country, and continues to help women whose children have been taken abroad.

Sara Steindorf

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