Monday, January 25, 2010

Sold by Zana Muhsen

Finished another book and this one also belongs to Thomas. The book is by Zana Muhsen with Andrew Crofts. Andrew Crofts is one of those ghostwriters; professionals who write on behalf those with a good story to tell but can't write it themselves.

Sold is to the tune of Princess by Jean Sasson and Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody with William Hoffer. I've read both too. These are all books about the raw deal accorded to the fairer sex in the Middle East. While Princess is set in Saudi Arabia and Not Without My Daughter is in Iran, Sold is about the Yemeni life, particularly in the backward villages. To me, such kind of women lead lives of servitude and they are basically housekeeper, maid, labourer and baby machines. These are all traditional patriarchal society where women basically don't have personal freedom or much rights.

I was interested about how life had turned out for both girls, Nadia and Zana. Zana got out of her life in Yemen at the end of the book. So I Googled. Nadia is still in Yemen. Zana remains in UK and subsequently had other children. Nadia would not leave cos she has to leave her children behind. That's the Yemeni law, it seems. One way of breaking in the girls was to make sure they had babies as soon as possible. Maternal instincts would do the rest. They counted on that as why most would not leave if the a choice had to be made. Most of the time, they would resign themselves to their 'fate'. Zana left because she was strong enough to leave her son Marcus behind... and I supposed that in many eyes made her a bad mother.

Both girls were 'sold' by their father as child brides when they were 14 and 15 for 1300 pounds each.

Some critics say Nadia is happy and she should be left where she is. But I think, any woman with opportunity of growing up with the freedom to do what she wants would very likely not trade the kind of life she knows for that of what these 2 girls went through. It's easy to accept your lot in life when you do not know anything better. But if you have experienced the better life, would you want to trade it for something lesser?

So where does that put the Yemeni men? Their women bear the brunt of living in backward villages, drawing water from wells down the hills from their houses, living in houses without electricity, giving birth on dusty floors with no medical care, etc, etc.... while the men work in faraway places for months and sometimes years. Absent father and husband, the women soldier on. For a better life they say.... So, for what it's worth, it just shows the chauvinism in the Middle Eastern menfolks.

A friend of mine once told me that Arab women have a good life as their menfolk pamper them. I don't think I'd like their kind of life... they have no identity. It's the same thing - baby machines, sexual objects minus the slavery. But their men can have many wives... as long as it's kept to the law. Now, can we turn that around and have the women do as the men and the men lead that sort of life women lead? Would they like it?..... and don't go round quoting to me the holy books say so and so.... cos the God I know created Eve from the side of Adam... as equal partners. And not from the leg so that the men can subjugate the woman or from the head for the woman to lord over him..... Equal partners! God's laws become an excuse for misbehaviour.

My 3rd book for the year! LOL! I cannot believe that I am still at it! At this rate I'll surpass last year's holiday read. 8)


SM Ting said...

i love reading mid-eastern themed books. Read quite a few of Jean Sasoon's books. Hv u read Kite Runner? Very good.

Will look out for this book.

AJ7 said...

Nope... but I will try to locate it and give it a read. Thx. I think Jean Sassoon's Not Without My Daughter is more vivid than Sold, though.

Anonymous said...

Nadia returned to the U.K. in 2004 and lives in Birmingham with her husband and children. She does not want any publicity and has asked for family not to publicise this


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