Whenever someone asks me about the effects that sanctions have on Iranians, as an editor at this magazine has, I am reminded of that program. It’s hard to know how to begin answering such a question. I am a forty-four-year-old woman who has lived forty-one years of her life under varying degrees of economic sanctions. I grew up with the sanctions; I went to school with them; I learned to read and write with them hovering over my head; I fell in love, and began my career as a journalist, and have stayed alive, all under sanctions from the United States of America. Sanctions have been a part of my life like the weather. Like the bombs for those children. They are the air that I breathe and the food that I eat.
To this day, my nephews and nieces make fun of me when I put only a meager spread of butter on my slice of bread, an odd habit from childhood. Besides the sanctions, already in place then, there was also war with Iraq, which turned simple goods like butter into luxury items. This alchemy works on all sorts of objects. Just the other day I heard about the troubles of a woman receiving chemotherapy. The doctor told her to get as many of the chemo ports as she can now. Because sooner or later, even the few medical imports that the country is able to get its hands on by dodging the American sanctions are bound to disappear. Unable to sell oil and unable to participate in the international monetary system, the government has no choice but to put an end to most foreign medical equipment and drugs coming into the country.