Cover image for Burned alive : a victim of the law of men
Burned alive : a victim of the law of men
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Publication Information:
New York : Warner Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
225 pages ; 24 cm
I was in flames -- Memory -- Hanan? -- The green tomato -- The bride's blood -- Assad -- The secret -- The last meeting -- The fire -- Dying -- Jacqueline -- Souad is going to die -- Switzerland (Souad) -- Marouan -- All that is missing -- Surviving witness -- Jacqueline -- My son -- To build a house.
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HV6197.P19 S68 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Souad was a 17-year-old girl living in a small village in Jordan. With a childhood marked by hard labor and physical abuse at the hands of her father, who is humiliated by the birth of many daughters and only one son, Souad is desperate to leave home. Enticed into a relationship with a handsome neighbor, her short-lived romance leaves her pregnant. Forbidden to marry until her older sisters find husbands and having brought shame to her family, Souad faces the only acceptable punishment: death. How her family plots to kill her, her harrowing struggle to survive burns over 90% of her body after her brother-in-law douses her with gasoline and sets her on fire, her dramatic escape from Jordan, and her resolve to build a new life for herself is a tale of heartbreaking drama and remarkable courage.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

When she was 18, her brother-in-law poured gasoline on her and set her aflame. She was meant to die because she was pregnant and unmarried, bringing disgrace to her parents. But she survived, and now, 25 years later, Souad bears witness to the horror of honor crimes that kill thousands of women every year in many countries across the world. She begins with a bitter account of what it was like to grow up female in a remote Palestinian village in the Occupied Territory. Being born a girl was a curse. Unlike her brother, she never went to school. Her father beat her daily. She worked as a shepherd, a consenting slave. She barely glimpsed the city, where women were free to work and move around. Her rescuer was Jacqueline, a European aid worker, who was in the Middle East to care for children in distress and who arranged for the badly burned young woman to be flown to Switzerland, where she and her newborn baby received medical care and support. Today Souad is somewhere in Europe, married with three children, her testimony still anonymous for her protection. Occasional chapters by Jacqueline fill in the wider context, but it's the immediacy of the shocking first-person narrative that drives home the statistics. Like Mende Nazer's Slave BKL D 1 03, this book is a call to action. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The meaning of "women's rights" varies with nationality and culture. For Souad, who grew up in the late 1950s in a tiny, remote village in the "Palestinian Territory," it's an issue of life and death. When, as an unmarried girl, she became pregnant, she was sentenced to death by her immediate family, doused with gasoline and set on fire by her brother-in-law, and taken to a hospital to be neglected until she died. There, she was discovered by a humanitarian worker who managed to save her life by arranging her emigration, with her infant son, to Switzerland. As horrifying as this "honor crime" is, it's a logical, almost natural outgrowth of what Souad says is the standard treatment of girls and women in her closed world. Using starkly plain language, she vividly depicts a childhood of virtual slavery, in which she was illiterate, ignorant of anything beyond the confines of the village, working "harder than a beast of burden" and beaten daily. As Souad slowly healed and made a new life for herself in Europe, horrific images arose out of her jumbled memory: her mother smothering unwanted female babies at birth; her brother strangling her younger sister with a telephone cord for committing an unknown sin. Not so much a literary work as an expos? of the brutal treatment of women still condoned in several parts of the world, this memoir, although painful to read, will be of urgent interest to anyone concerned with international human rights. Agent, Anna Jarota. (May 11) Forecast: This book was published in France last year and hit bestseller lists there. Ads in People and Time will alert American readers to its U.S. publication. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

To kill a young woman for engaging in premarital sex, let alone just glancing at a man, seems unthinkable to most cultures today. Yet these murders, known as "honor killings," continue to happen in villages throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia. One woman who escaped such a horrific attempt on her life is Souad, a Palestinian woman now living in Europe, who writes under a pseudonym to protect her identity. In her heartbreaking memoir, she describes her difficult life, briefly alleviated by a love affair with a man who promised marriage. She got pregnant and shortly thereafter was abandoned. To cleanse the family's honor, her brother-in-law chose to kill her by dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire. She was rescued and eventually brought to Europe by a humanitarian aid worker. While her body was being reconstructed from the burns, she also had to reconstruct her life, with a completely new language and customs. Unlike most women who have experienced her nightmarish situation, Souad's story has a happy ending. This moving memoir is an important document in helping to increase awareness of this taboo subject, as well as of the inhumane violations of women's rights in general. For all libraries.-Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.