‘Just shame, shame,’ – Former MP Golriz Ghahraman speaks in first interview

Former Green MP Golriz Ghahraman has given her first in-depth interview after her arrest for shoplifting and subsequent resignation from Parliament, telling 1News it was an act of “self-sabotage.”

Ghahraman was convicted and fined today over shoplifting charges at multiple boutique stores. She spoke to 1News’ John Campbell extensively about her “shame” in a new interview.

“I’m as baffled as anyone”, she told Campbell when asked what happened. “I just know what it feels like, which is deeply shameful and distressing.”

“What the hell was I doing?

“I can now put it into context because I have a psychologist’s report and various experts and I’ve had time to process. … But I think first and foremost, for me, it’s the shame of doing something that harmed others.”

Ghahraman earlier admitted four shoplifting charges relating to the theft of thousands of dollars’ worth of clothing when she appeared in the Auckland District Court in March.

“You know, people think, like, this came out and that’s the crisis, but I was already in crisis,” she told Campbell.

“I was already in that world of sort of self-loathing… that kind of that place you sit where you’re so low on yourself that it makes sense to kind of harm yourself as well.”

Ghahraman said she does not remember all of the incidents clearly.

“It wasn’t to get a little bit of joy, because there was no joy… It was just shame, shame, the whole time,” she said.

“But it was like, you’re this person… I think it was something tangible. That I could point to, to go, there’s something wrong with you.”

The shock resignation brought the issues of Ghahraman’s mental health to the fore, and some in the media said she was playing “the mental health card.”

During a sentencing hearing on Monday, her lawyer, Annabel Cresswell, suggested “loss-reactive shoplifting” – where stealing occurred as part of a mental health crisis, the New Zealand Herald reported.

In a statement in January, she said stress relating to her work had led her to “act in ways that are completely out of character. I am not trying to excuse my actions, but I do want to explain them”.

“The mental health professional I see says my recent behaviour is consistent with recent events giving rise to extreme stress response, and relating to previously unrecognised trauma.”

When asked by Campbell, Ghahraman said she had taken responsibility for her actions.

Former Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman arrives at Auckland District Court to find out her fate after pleading guilty to shoplifting.

“I think it’s important to stop and go, I’ve never used it as an excuse for the shoplifting because I admitted that and I’ve, you know, pleaded guilty to it. And that’s as it should be. I should, and I have, taken responsibility for that. So I’ve never said because, you know, I had poor mental health that I should get away with something.

“But I also want to just stop and say that we never are getting away with something when we bring up our mental health. It’s the hardest thing in the world. You know, I wish I could just apologise for the shoplifting, and plead guilty, and not have to also talk about this other very personal thing that the world doesn’t treat very kindly.”

Ghahraman has said she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She made history as the the first New Zealand MP with a refugee background, arriving from Iran with her family at 9 years old.

She told Campbell, “the Islamic regime was in one of its most violent periods in the 1980s when I was born and of course that was… You see the absolute sea of amputees now in the footage from Palestine and we were seeing that coming back from the front lines… I have memories of all of that, with big chunks missing as the report [by a clinical psychologist] also acknowledges.”

While in Parliament Ghahraman also went through a great deal of abuse and threats online which contributed to her problems.

“I now know,” she told Campbell, “that I was in what they call ‘fight or flight mode’, which you’re meant to be in for a couple of minutes at a time, but I just stayed for six years of it. And you do numb yourself, you do kind of push it down… but it’s gotta come out somewhere.”

Campbell asked her, “If you were a young, brown woman, a young woman from your background, would you go into Parliament now?”

She did not hesitate in the interview.

“No. I wouldn’t do it. I think there’s better things to do for our communities. That’s a terrible thing to say. That’s a terrible thing to say. You know, I didn’t break the glass ceiling. It’s like, the shards are still in my face. I just went up against it, really hard.”

Ghahraman said that her “greatest regret” would always be “that I didn’t understand my own mental state far enough in advance to kind of back away…

“I’m not excusing it at all, and I wouldn’t… I don’t think I could feel worse… It was just such a stupid way to behave.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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