Author: Honor Diaries

Let’s Get Men Talking about Gender Equality

Last week was International Women’s Day. The very name is enough, for some men, to get their head raging and their tweeting fingers typing. ‘A day for women?! But when is International Men’s Day?’ they quip, hopelessly unaware of their male privilege (and also ignorant of the facts – it’s on the 19th November in case you were wondering). But, aside from the fact that there is actually a parallel day for men, the more pertinent point is that they are questioning the need for a day for women – a day to celebrate the achievements of women the world over, and a day to campaign for so many still-unsolved women’s issues. Why did millions of people mark a special day last week for women? Even in 2016, hundreds of thousands of women and girls are at risk of FGM (female genital mutilation), women and girls are forced into unwanted marriages, and honor violence is rampant. And not just in what some may see as the ‘third world’, some far-away existence removed from their everyday …

Zero Tolerance for FGM

This post is written by: Paula Kweskin, Human Rights Attorney and Documentary Filmmaker Imagine a surgery performed with dirty instruments, without anesthesia, and no doctor. No one dresses your wounds and there are no follow-up appointments. This is not a description of a medieval medical procedure; it is a practice which takes place every six minutes around the world. 140 million girls and women have been affected by female genital mutilation (FGM), the cutting and/or removal of a girl’s genitalia in order to preserve her “honor” or “purity.” FGM violates several human rights principles, including rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. FGM is not prescribed by any particular religion, and yet it is often advocated by religious and community leaders who believe the removal of a girl’s clitoris is necessary to ensure she marries well, brings honor to her family or clan, preserves her virginity and limits her sexual drive. FGM is …

Remembering America’s Lost Women

Growing up in Pakistan, I was a rule breaker. I got in trouble for speaking my mind and making my own choices, two things good Pakistani women were not supposed to do. Until I broke a rule that could not be fixed or overlooked, falling in love with a Shia man, though I came from a Sunni home. In Pakistan, our families were at war, so we went to Canada. North America was my safe haven, a place I could make my life choices without fearing shame and violence. America afforded me an escape from the fear of honor violence, the abuse thousands of women around the world experience for bringing dishonor to their families. This violence can take the form of physical, emotional or sexual assault, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. America was my safe haven, but, unbeknownst to many, it is not safe for everyone. Honor violence is not a problem relegated to countries like Pakistan; every year, thousands of girls in North America experience honor violence and even lose their lives …

Cutting Female Circumcision From Egyptian Culture

Written by C. Kott Suhair al-Bata’a was once a 13 year-old Egyptian girl, described by her family as sweet and spirited. Today she lies in a tomb near the home she grew up in, after she died a year ago, while undergoing surgery for female genital mutilation (FGM). Despite the fact that FGM was banned in 2008, it remains a common practice in Egypt. UNICEF reports that more than 90% of women in Egypt have undergone the procedure. This issue has the support of prominent political and religious groups. FGM is perceived as an initiation into womanhood that defines a girl’s femininity and cleanses her of sexual impurity. Individuals, activists and organizations hope that Suhair’s tragic death will create change for other girls. A landmark trial is underway with the potential to alter the face of Egyptian society. Initially, Suhair’s family filed charges against the doctor who performed the operation. Later they dropped the charges, claiming Suhair was being treated for genital warts. Vengeance for Suhair might have ended there, had Reda al-Danbouki not intervened. Al-Danbouki is an Egyptian human rights …

Misogynist Ideology of Nigerian Kidnapping

Written by Zainab Khan and Paula Kweskin Eighteen-year-old Deborah Sanya went to school to take her final exams before graduation. She never expected what happened next: a mass kidnapping of her and over 200 of her fellow students. Deborah and her three friends are some of the lucky ones; they bravely ran when one of the kidnappers wasn’t looking, found refuge in a local village, and eventually made it home. Four weeks later, there is no trace of her friends. Islamic militants known, as Boko Haram, are believed to be behind the kidnapping of the girls from their school in Chibok. The literal translation of this radical, extremist terrorist group means “Western education is sinful” in the Hausa language. The group is fueled by the ideology that Western influences have corrupted their society and a pure Islamic state can restore the country of Nigeria. The group wants to impose Sharia, or Islamic law, in Africa’s most populous and economically developing country. Boko Haram is one of the most dangerous manifestations of the global resurgence of radical Islam. It …

Speak Out Against Cutting

Written by: Jaha Dukureh   My name is Jaha Dukureh. I am 24 years old. I am a survivor of female genital mutilation (FGM). I now live in Atlanta, Georgia, but when I was a baby in Gambia, my parents asked a family friend to perform the ritual on me. That day, I was robbed of a part of my femininity.  Since I have started speaking out against FGM, I have met many other girls who have been cut. Not all their stories are like mine. Many of these girls are American. They are girls who were born and live in the United States where nearly 200,000 girls are at risk of FGM. Yes, it is illegal, which is why many girls are subject to what is called vacation cutting. They are sent back to their parents’ home countries, where relatives arrange the ritual. Many of these girls are unaware of what is about to happen to them. They are scarred and traumatised – physically and emotionally. Girls are told the cutting ritual is a transition into womanhood. However, for the rest of their …