Do they Hear you when you Cry
Fauziya Kassindja & Layli Miller Bashir
• Price — Rs 399
• Publication — Penguin
There are so many traditions and customs that people across the world follow, and we, educated, globally aware individuals are so blissfully unaware of. An eye opener, this book brings forward many injustices that humans, particularly women have to face each day, across the world.
The book is a first person account of a young girl Fauziya who initially lived a sheltered life in Togo, a small country in western Africa.
Her father, a progressive Muslim, defied many tribal customs and brought up his kids with a fairly modern outlook.
But, her world shatters when her doting father passes away. She was left with no one to shield her from the orthodox patriarchal, family system. At 17, she is made to leave her education, forced to marry a much older man with three wives, and told to prepare for ‘kakia’ or female circumcision.
Hours before this appaling ritual is to be performed, Fauziya escapes the country on some fake papers. But, just when she thought that the worst over, the actual nightmare begins when she reaches the US.
She is put into detention when she asks for political asylum in the US. Kassindja waited for her initial hearing in prison for over eight months where she is stripped, shackled in chains and kept in solitary confinement.
All her pleas to see a doctor after severe attacks of asthma, and a raging peptic ulcer are ignored. Layli Miller Bashir a law student helps her through this relentless ordeal, appealing to International bodies and media, to help the authorities realise what a grotesque act female genital mutilation is, and grant her asylum.
FGM as it is called in the US, is the removal of part, or all, of the female genitalia. An estimated two million girls a year are at risk of genital mutilation, that not only causes intense pain, shock and infection, but can also lead to death.
Fauziya remained in prison for 18 months and on June 13, 1996, she and her legal team won a landmark case that set the standard for all seeking asylum in the US on the grounds of gender-based persecution.