May 2009


A Jordanian journalist, feminist and human rights activist is now published. Rana Husseini’s new book Murder in the Name of Honour was launched in the UK May 28,  will be launched in Amman June 2 and will be launched in the US June 26.

You can attend the launch in Amman at Readers in Cosmo 7pm – 9pm and get signed copies.

Below is more about the book and the woman behind it as published in a press release from her publishers One World.

THE TRUE STORY OF ONE WOMAN’S HEROIC FIGHT AGAINST AN UNBELIEVABLE CRIME

RANA HUSSEINI

A leading investigative journalist offers the first definitive exposé of honour killings.

Rana Husseini’s hard hitting and controversial examination of honour crimes is a fearless, groundbreaking account of a topic that can no longer be ignored.  Claiming the lives of 5,000 women every year, and common in many traditional societies around the world, as well as in migrant communities in Europe and the USA, these so-called “Honour Killings” involve a “punishment” – often death or disfigurement – carried out by a relative to restore the family’s honour.

Breaking through the conspiracy of silence surrounding this crime, the book includes the personal stories behind many high profile cases that have recently hit the news, as well as many other, as yet unheard stories. Rana also describes her battle to change outdated laws and expose those countries that still, even today, legally allow killers who claim to have struck in the name of honor to walk free. No other writer has taken such an unflinching look at one of the most brutal practices that still exists in the modern world.

Journalist, feminist, and human rights defender, Jordanian RANA HUSSEINI is one of the world’s most influential investigative journalists, whose reporting has put violence against women on the public agenda around the world. The recipient of numerous awards for bravery in journalism, she is a regular speaker at major international events and has been interviewed by almost every major international broadcaster, from CNN to the BBC

A wall is being built that separates, divides, and excludes. It takes a play area, a view point, a rendezvous site from it community, from all of us in Amman. This wall is going up on around the lands near the citadel. The site is being expanded to include refreshment stands, bathrooms and a public plaza for events and concerts. But all this is being walled in by a massive concrete wall that will be beautified by laying stone on top of it.

The wall stands about 3.5 meters high allowing for the complete sanitization of the experience for who ever is inside while excluding everyone outside. The wall discriminates indiscriminately; you are either inside – after paying a fee of course, or outside.

This wall takes away the Jabal Al Qalaa play area where little girls and boys head to for some space away from the tiered and clustered homes they live in. It is where they fly their kites or kick around their balls. It is where they sit and look out a beautiful city they call home.

GAM has responded to a community concern on the website Creative Jordan with a response that does nothing to answer the issue but merely tries to justify the situation and actually reproaches us for our agitated state of distress because we care for our city not to be gentrified and sanitized for visitors of privilege whether they be tourists or locals.

I urge you each one of you to read the discussion thread and make your voice heard. We all have voices and this affects each and every one of us in Amman, not just the Jabal Al Qalaa residents.  The discussion can be found  here.

Jabal Al Qalaa- the citadel is a place where each one of us has a memory, a story, an experience… don’t let them take that away from you by modernizing a piece of history. History should remain untouched for us to interpret and understand through our senses not to be sanitized and modernized and made something it is not.

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I was in the US last month and it had been 5 years since I last went. I knew I was apprehensive about being in the US and I still have not had time to reflect deeply on my experience but here are some impressions and personal opinions on things I liked and didn’t like while on my trip. This list is not definitive or set in stone, feel free to share anything you like or don’t like about the US, and maybe on my next trip I’ll watch out for these things.

I like I no like
The Subway – and I aint talking about the sandwich How fast everyone is trying to get somewhere – even if it is nowhere – they never arrive
The Met – its huge and parts of it boring but you can easily get lost for hours inside Stepford wives/ office workers/ shoppers… etc. It’s a bit scary
The fact that museums in DC are free- YAY Smithsonian The food – doesn’t matter what the cuisine is – its too much and too rich
The diversity in DC and NY in tongues, shapes and sizes Lines – lines everywhere – I like organized chaos, not straight lines they are too boring
But my number one favorite thing in the US is TOILET SEAT COVERS! Available in most public bathrooms woohoo Airport security- enuf said!

I was listening to a speech at the Toastmasters Division Contest this weekend entitled “In Her Shoes” by a young man. His speech was about women. He started with skits about women drivers, about wives that spend all their husbands’ money and women among other derogatory scenarios. He moves into the body of his speech by saying he wants to put himself in a woman’s shoes and even puts on a blond wig for this part.

Askar talks about how easy it for women to get by on their looks. He does a skit in which the woman at the office is not available because she has sneaked off to get her nails. How about the idea that women get better performance appraisals at the office because they are pretty and flick their hair at the boss! How about the wife that calls her husband asking him for more money because she once again maxed the two credit cards and she needs to shop some more for frivolous unnecessary things. He spoke about how women have it easy in marriage as they lay out their conditions and put a price on their dowry.

The sexist comments and scenarios just kept coming and I couldn’t keep quiet. I called out bullshit a couple of times, and when I did it wasn’t just for me. It was for every woman who’s had to work twice or thrice as hard as the man sitting next to her, doing the same job and getting paid more than her. It was for every woman who has had a mate forced upon her by her father, brother, or uncle. It was for every woman denied education so her brother can go to school despite her being the better and smarter student. It was for every woman who has been slapped, punched, beaten, hit, or raped by a man because he could. It was for every woman who has been cat called, looked over, followed, touched, or objectified , for every woman sexually harassed on the street, in the office and in any public and private space. For every woman who stays at home because her father, brother, husband or son will not let her earn a living for herself and become independent. For every woman who toils in her house 24/7 making sure her family has a hot meal and clean safe home to come back to every day. For every woman on a diet trying to be that air brushed model in the magazine. This was and is for every woman and all women.

These women do not get by on their looks, or a flick of the hair. The speaker used stereotypes to get a laugh out of us. He pigeon-holed woman as objects of beauty and frivolity, bad drivers, and as lazy and unprofessional beings, that is what he saw when he put himself in a woman’s shoes! He then tried to turn his speech around not by negating any of what he said but by saying that women and men both have it hard and that both genders compliment and complete each other. To me this translated into him reinforcing these stereotypes, and saying they are OK because the men complete the other half of the equation. An argument I can NOT accept.

What angered me the most, and saddened me even, was that the women in his club, and area had said nothing when he presented his speech in these contests. Even the women in the room that day excused his misogyny because he said that one sentence at the end or because it was a humorous speech and therefore not a serious speech that warrants such a reaction from me. I was even chastised publicly, and officially complained against because I spoke out and up against this sexism.

Speaking up and against an injustice is never easy. It isn’t popular, it isn’t polite even. But it is the right thing to do. Women have been silent and silenced too long. We are forced to be submissive by culture, upbringing, guilt, shame and even coercion. Discrimination, misogyny, and sexism should not be tolerated, even in jest and in fact should be opposed.

I am sick of being shushed because it is not polite to speak up. I am tired of being told its OK because it is funny. I am exasperated by the people that tell me to look around me, it’s true – to them I tell them to look farther afield than their immediate circle of privilege and prejudice. I don’t see why I have to take this abuse quietly, do you?

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” I will not be oppressed or an oppressor, and I did not appreciate the neutrality in that room that day, because with it came the tacit approval of our silence.