Monday, November 26, 2007

This week's heroine

I should have posted this yesterday, since I wanted to do my "Heroines on Sunday" as a regular thing. However, this weekend was way irregular.

Though surrounded by a bit of controversy, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is another heroine in my book. Her recent book Infidel is on my short list of non-fiction 'must reads'. Ali has received numerous awards for her human rights work. She has drawn a lot of attention to the treatment of women in much of the Islamic world. Currently, she lives in hiding after receiving numerous death threats for her outspokenness.

I was reminded of her by a recent news piece out of Saudi Arabia. A woman has been sentenced to prison and lashing after being gang raped. Apparently, the newly-married 19 year old woman and her lover were caught partially clothed in the man's car by two men. They were forced to drive to a secluded location where other men were waiting. The couple were both raped. The woman was charged with adultery and sentenced to 90 lashes and six months in prison. After her lawyer appealed, the new judge increased her sentence to 200 lashes. While the rapists were convicted, one of the judges said that the woman invited the attack by being partially undressed in public with a man who was not her husband.

This is the kind of thing that Ayaan Hirsi Ali rails against, and why her life has been threatened. Her own history is not spotless. She has admitted to falsifying information to attain asylum in her current country, The Netherlands. I cannot fault her for her actions (she was trying to avoid a marriage arranged by her family). No one is perfect. However, the good she does outweighs what little indiscretions she may have committed, in my eyes.

I hope her enemies never find her or tire of looking for her.

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