Friday, 26 September 2014

Review: Belonging by Sameem Ali


I finished reading two books in just two days. I made a review for "Daughters of Shame" written by Jasvinder Sanghera in my previous post and this one is for Belonging by Sameem Ali. 

Daughters of Shame and Belonging are two books about #forcedmarriages and coincidentally, these two books were written by Asian women whose parents hail from Pakistan and India. Jasvinder and Sameem's parents migrated to the Great Britain where the ladies were born. 

when I put down Jasvinder's book, I went to my shelf and picked this book up. As I started reading I realized that the story is somewhat similar and it took place also in Britain. Then I knew that forced marriages and honour killings are REAL and these horrible crimes are still happening today. I like the way the story is narrated in "Belonging". It is very engaging and believable. Sameem grew up in a children's home when she was young where life as a kid was beautiful for her and the rest of the kids. When she turned 7, her parents came to take her home and that's where the not-so-nice life started. 

She was basically treated like a slave, forced to do all the housework, forced to marry someone in Pakistan (one of her uncles had unsettled debts and to settle it off, Sameem was forced to marry one of his sons). She never knew what marriage, sex and pregnancy were at the age of thirteen but she was pregnant and had a child at the age of 14. 

Sameem was mistreated by her own family and it is really sad to know that the society still thinks that girls should not get proper sexual education. She never knew that women will go through menstruation and she was not even explained about it after attaining puberty. The society is cruel towards women as we are not even allowed to explore our own bodies and the way they work. We are not supposed to fully mature sexually because knowing what's happening to our bodies would educate us on how to protect ourselves and that would mean less control for men on women. What a shame!

This is an excerpt from the book that makes my stomach churn!

" Mother decided that she could fix the stutter by cutting the skin under my tongue, which she told me was pulling my tongue down in the wrong way. She shouted angrily at Hanif to help her, and the two of them laid me down on the kitchen floor, and told me to open my mouth. I was confused but did as I was told. In Mother's hand was a razor blade, the kind found in an old-fashioned razor. I stared at in horror. "

We have seen gradual improvements on racism, gay-lesbian rights, and many other issues plaguing our society but it's sad to know that we are still battling the war against sexism in 2014. It's sad to see Emma Watson being threatened online by some jerk who thinks he could leak her nude photos and humiliate her.

It's not just the UN ambassador's responsibilities to fight for justice. Let's spread awareness and make this place a better place for women and men. If we continue to portray men as rude, dominating and evil, when are we going to see the gentlemen around? 

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