Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Read: Invisible Women

Invisible Women by Jacky Trevain.
This is a sequel to the first book, Fatwa, which is the true story by Jacky Trevane of her marriage to an Egyptian-Muslim.  Being from the UK, Jacky was on holiiday in Egypt and fell for her "fairytale"   -a suave, tall, dark, and handsome Egyptian man.  He promised the world to her and she believed him.  Unfortunately, instead of a life of luxury she received a life of abuse, torture, and inhumane treatment.  She was treated like a slave and she feared for her life each day, but like many victims of domestic abuse-she stayed for her children.  With the assistance of her loving parents, she was able to escape the monster. But with this escape came a fatwa.  Jacky converted to Islam during her marriage, which meant that her husband could place a Fatwa-death threat on her.  Muslims are a close knit community and they stick together.  Where ever Jacky went she had to be on guard because at any moment her husband could have had contact with Muslim relatives or friends to kill her.  Jacky lived in fear with this fatwa   He continued to call, send letters, and harass her for the next twenty years of her life, but there is a  happy ending to this story-Ben.  Jacky met her new loving husband, Ben, and lives happily with her children grown up and moved out.  She now has a website for Invisible Women and she writes to them daily. 

Muslim Countries and Honour killings

Honour Killings involve the killing of family member when they disobey the religious and cultural expectations of the family.  In the book, a young seventeen year old girl named Soha who loved fashion, wearing lipstick, talking with boys(a "no" for muslim girls)-just being a normal teenage girl.  She was constantly scorned by her father for her "bad" behavior.  One day at school a boy slipped a note in her bag(without her awareness) and when she came home her father went through her bag to find the note.  He proceeded to go into her room where he found "red lipstick." Immediately he confronted Soha and beat her until she passed out cold.  Soha ran away from home, but eventually her father and Uncles found her and murdered her.  When people ask what happened to Soha, the family just says she found a husband and is married in Jordan.  This is called an "honour killing" where the family kills their own flesh and blood for honor and due to the family member "shaming" the family. 

Jacky Trevain writes....

"Barbaric behavior is virtually common place in Moslem countries.  In Pakistan, for example, women live in fear.  Male relatives control them totally and many are murdered if they are merely suspected of bringing shame on the family. They can be shot, stabbed, or even set on fire and burnt to death.  Every year, not just one but hundreds of women are known to die as a result of honour killings.  Most go unreported and unpunished." 

"Killing for honour actually goes against the teachings of Islam and there was no justification for it.  Tradition triumphs over the true meaning of the Qu'ran and is so strong it can turn the teachings of the Qu'ran into a license to kill."

With Muslims using the Qu'ran as a license to kill this contradicts the principles of the Qu'ran and their religion.  "Thou shall not lie, steal, cheat, kill." Sins are the same between the Bible and the Qu'ran.  When it comes to women, they just do not have it easy in Muslim communities.  There are many expectations to how they should act and behave. It is interesting because with my host family we spoke about the two halves. For the younger generation, the head is veiled and maybe they are not wearing makeup, but the second half is wearing tight jeans and a t shirt.  They are conflicted between the expectations of their family and religion and the expectations of modern society making their halves split.  It is interesting to psychoanalyze the way they want to behave vs. the way they should behave.  The shoulds get in the way of their wants leading many young girls to be in conflict with their family and religion while not securing their sense of self. 

Where is the compromise? I hope these families can find compromise and be aware that society is always changing while being influenced by Westernized culture. I fully support keeping ones traditional values and customs, but young girls are going to be influenced by their environment. The media, their peers, pop culture-these all have can impact their appearance and desire to dress in a less traditional manner. It is up to parents to "meet their kids in the middle" and have open conversations about how they want to dress and what is appropriate for them to wear.  Muslims parents being authoritative and punitive usually results in children rebelling towards the majority therefore a little bit of compromise can go a long way.  The two halves are a bit too contradictive, but something on the more traditional side with a dash of modern would be a better fit for these Muslim girls. 

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