Price of Honor: Muslim Women Lift the Veil of Silence on the Islamic World by Jan Goodwin
Nonfiction; 368 pgs
Fundamentalism emerges out of every religion, and Islam is no different. Women are being subjected to oppression, their rights and freedom stripped away. The words of the Koran are being distorted and laws are being made that have absolutely no basis of support in that very book the extremists claim to follow literally. Hypocrisy abounds. Jan Goodwin takes a look at ten Islamic countries and their treatment of women.
Women are the ones blamed for being raped, sometimes forced to marry their rapists; beating a woman is acceptable behavior if she is your wife; in one country a female child of nine is eligible for the death penalty while boys are eligible at the age of 16; men can have multiple wives, including temporary ones in some countries, and yet those same men attack Western cultures for couples having affairs; health issues are suppressed from the public, including the prevalence of AIDS; and women are treated as second class citizens, where an 11 year old mentally [disabled] brother has authority over his grown sister. In many of these countries, women were once allowed equal education to that of their male counterparts and held jobs. And yet those rights are slowly, sometimes suddenly, being stripped away from them.
While some of the women the author spoke with find comfort in the restrictions applied to their lives—and even find it freeing, many more women feel trapped and oppressed. Despite that, many of these women are strong people, making the best of their situations. Some women are courageous enough to stand up for their rights and go against those in power, often suffering death threats and financial and social ruin as a result.
As Ms. Goodwin suggested throughout her book, women’s rights become the focal point in many of these countries when leaders want to draw attention away from the more real and immediate problems or to subvert attention from unfavorable government decisions. Women become the scapegoats, and it is argued that every decision made is in the name of protecting the woman, when really it seems that she is only more endangered, subject to humiliation and violence. Men can act however they want, but women are the ones who have to be on their best behavior.
The extreme fundamentalist movement is attractive in many ways to countries described in Jan Goodwin’s book. Most of these countries are mismanaged and run by leaders who fail to meet the growing needs of their people. War, either directly or indirectly, has torn other countries apart, forcing hardships on them that make survival difficult. The fundamentalist groups offer the people hope and resources they desperately need. The extremists’ passion and assistance is hard to resist, even knowing the possible cost of it in the end. And that, I’m afraid, is what makes the fundamentalist movement even more of a threat than it already is. Although a bit dated, having been published 11 years ago [And now 20 years ago], I found Price of Honor to be an interesting and informative book.
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