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