Fauziya Kassindja was born into a hard-working middle class Muslim back-ground, in Togo. Her life was smooth sailing until her father passed away. Her paternal aunt and uncle, who never got along with her family, banned her mother from the house, while she was forced into a polygamous marriage at the age of seventeen. As far as her husband was concerned, she must go through the genital mutilation before he could fully take her in as his wife.
Even though FGM is wildly practised among young women in Fauziya's tribe, her late father found it repugnant. However, since he was dead, his opinion did not count.
Fauziya found herself on the horns of a dilemma. Fortunately, her elder sister helped her escaped the country through Ghana, Germany and eventually, she landed in the United States of America. Where she was immediately thrust into prison and treated like a criminal and was told in no uncertain terms that FGM was not qualified as a basis for asylum. She was trapped in a nightmare.
"Do They Hear You When You Cry" mainly narrates Fauziya's ordeal in the prison of the United States of America. She was humiliatingly stripped naked to be searched and forced to have exposed showers. She was unnecessarily sent to isolation cells, served meagre meals, surprised with dorm search in the middle of the night and was never allowed to see the daylight. As was expected, her health deteriorated, hovering between life and death. Her experience was beyond belief.
Luckily, Karen Musalo and the young law student Layli Miller Bashir, together with the legal team from American University's Washington College of Law, fought tooth and nail for her asylum, and consequently restored her to life. Thanks to Fauziya Kassindja's case, the USA now recognises FGM as a basis for asylum.
The reason why detainees or illegal immigrants would be treated like criminals, imprisoned, physically and emotionally abused is completely beyond me. I am baffled that such a thing happened in a developed and advanced country like the United States of American, where I assume there is a full awareness of human rights. "Do They Hear You When You Cry" was wholly a thought-provoking and a compelling read. An eye-opener and a ground-breaking novel.
My only qualm was its length, which I found overly long. In my opinion, I do not see the point of narrating a story in 689 pages if the same impression could be given in 300 pages. At the end, I found myself slightly exhausted. Apart from that, I highly recommend.
Para los que les interesaría leer el libro en castellano, existe con el título ¿Nos oyen cuando lloramos? Por Fauziya Kassindja
A lot of things happen in developed countries. the catch is we don't get to know them. If one just takes the veil, we would be shocked. after all, we all saw what was done to the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay...ReplyDelete
I haven't read any story by a Togolese writer, more because I haven't yet come across one.
I was left dumbfounded, there was actually no need of physical abuse. Well, through constant reading one ends up taking the veil. It is just a shame.Delete
I would not consider Fauziya an official Togolese writer, you know it's a non fiction. She was simply narrating her life experience in the prison of the USA.
Wow, is what I kept saying when I read your review. It sounds like a fascinatingly horrific experience for a person to go through.ReplyDelete
Nana, it absolutely was.. dreadful, and a true life story.Delete
This is a sad story that takes one through different multicultural perspectives with varying political aspects sandwiched between cultures. I wish I cold get hold of this book.ReplyDelete
David, hopefully you would. It was a temperamental read.Delete
No one hears the cry of the down trodden and the so called advanced nation still look down of Africans though i wouldn't blame it on the Advanced nation but over leaders in Africa who trample on the rights of their citizens.....Thumps up Mary for the review.ReplyDelete
Olorunyomi, thanks for dropping a note. You made a point here.Delete
I'm not really surprised, Mary, at the inhuman treatment that Fauziyah had to go through. Sometimes I get the feeling that all that we hear and see about the US is hyped big time. Anyway, I think this is is powerful write and I would love to read it. I agree that 689 pages is rather long but then her story had to be told. Great review, Mary.ReplyDelete
My dearest Afua.. your point is unarguable.. her story defnitely had to be told. Its a non fiction.. I hope you get to read it. I would like to know what you feel about it.Delete
The good thing about this story is that it ended well and victorious and the fact that its not fiction makes the character or heroine. Of course heroes and heroines must overcome a lot before becoming successful and these are the kind of stories/people that should be making news and celebrated as our role models not the garbage on TV. That being said it is important to also understand that no system in the world is perfect. In as much as I read a lot of comments criticizing the treatment in prison which is no way justifiable it is also very important for us to understand reality because no where in this world will anyone find themselves behind prison bars and be treated humanly #fact....infact I've had the opportunity to work with the health department of a state Prison in the Us and in as much as the correctional officers abuse the prisoners every now and then, these people get even the best free health care from dental to everything and food that most working class citizens can't afford . Infact they were prisoners who deliberately committed crime just to return and be taken care of by the system. Some even commit of fences before days like thanksgiving day in November so they can be in jail for the meals and celebration. Also Africans who come in illegally tend to abuse the system as well and I personally know Nigerians who illegally immigrated to Canada and claimed asylum as gays and some as victims of university secret cults. The system now end up taking care of them with tax payers money and even processing legal papers for them. These things cost money and in a situation where so many ppl especially from Africa keep exploiting this bcos of corruption and bad governance from their countries then it becomes almost impossible to know who is a victim which could possibly have happened in Fauziya's case. But again I still give the Us authorities some credit because after all said and done they still got it right even though it does not justify the treatment but in most countries she would've have died and so would her case and there never would have been this book...ReplyDelete
Kboy, thanks for stopping by. Though I do not share any of your opinion.Delete
No matter how imperfect a system is, there is no reason whatsoever (illegal) immigrants should find themselves behind prison bars. They aren't criminals. I would advice you not to give your credit to any body yet, if you haven't read the book.
Mary....most of the terror committed on Us soil have been committed by immigrants#fact....a nation like the Us who on a daily basis have hundreds and thousands of people flooding its gates for greener pastures and unfortunately criminals and terrorists are part of these people....it will be stupid to suggest every person should be welcome even when they are dangerous just because they are immigrants....unfortunately the criminals have made it bad for those with good intentions....you may not agree but that's just the honest truth and reality...sadlyReplyDelete
We are talking about two different things here.. they should detain who they have to.... however, there is absolutely no need of humiliating and mistreating anybody in the process, as simple as that. The fact that one is detained is already a nightmare... no need to add to that. A democratic country fully aware of the human right must act like one.Delete
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Democratic country? Well I'm an immigrant myself but the question your not answering is what made Fauziya an (illegal) immigrant?...,,if I'm running from my village/ country and run all the way to any western country because males in my age category are being castrated or forcefully circumcised but run with false documentation or a fake passport...regardless of my circumstances the first thing the immigration officials of that country will do is put me in jail before the issue of my balls is discussed..law is law.....then in terms of human rights..the fact that millions of people enter with false documentation and lie and claim asylum the immigration officials even though it is wrong use sometimes force to determine who is either lying or truthfully seeking asylum on humanitarian ground....I'm in nowhere justifying this but entering any country with illegal papers is a crime punishable by law and a threat to that nation's national security....ReplyDelete
She surrendered herself upon her arrival at the airport. I am not against following establishes immigration procedure.... I am an imigrant myself as well... and I must say that humiliation, racism, clasism and insults, physical and emotional abuse is and must not be part of it.Delete