sassysage's Blog

Hot off The Press: a great read about the strength of girls/women in the middle east

Posted on: May 12, 2017

‘you never expect to be killed by your own father’  says a teen girl living in syria who was interviewed by katherine zoepf, a journalist who spent many years covering the middle east. 

katherine witnessed the strength and courage of women who took tiny but mighty steps to elevate the lives of girls/young women despite the odds.  she yearned to tell their stories which are often unheard.   i had the chance to attend a reading and q & a about her new book, excellent daughters: the secret lives of young women who are transforming the arab world.  

during the reading, katherine describes interviews from girls at a juvenile prison.  in addition to teens who have been caught in illegal activity, this prison also houses girls who are in danger of being killed by their families.  they were afraid of being murdered as part of honor killings which are allowed in some parts of the middle east. an honor or shame killing is when others believe the victim has brought dishonor to the family or has violated the values of the community.  this is often done to girls/women for reasons such as refusing to enter an arranged marriage, being in a relationship that is disapproved by their family, becoming the victim of rape or even dressing in ways which are deemed inappropriate.

as katherine reads, i’m in horror at the fact there were enough girls in danger of honor killings to warrant a special place to house them.  i’m also struck by sadness at the fact their place of refuge is a prison.  but because of the stigma of being a girl who has dishonored her family, it was the only place that would take them in. despite the harsh environment, the girls are given sewing/knitting classes, food and love by mona. mona and other brave activists spoke up to provide a place for the girls. mona tries in her small but mighty way to make a difference.  

mona and stories of other courageous women are told throughout the book.  these women speak in a world that often tries to shut them out. they are fearless leaders creating change and shaping a better future for their communities from the grassroots up. 

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