Sunday, March 30, 2014

Week 7 blog post (late)

This week, we are helping a member who is afraid for her life. She is a junior in college in the US, but her and her family are here on a Visa which makes it hard for her to get a job or loans. Her family, especially her mother, is threatening to kill her and she doesn't know what to do. She is afraid to tell the police because that would make her the "bad guy" in the family and create more trouble, or worse: get sent back home to Abu Dhabi/get marred.

Members are trying to present solutions. They have offered her accommodation in various places where they're situated, but she is going to college and doesn't want to waste her semester which is paid for.
Other people have experience with information regarding the visa situation, so they are presenting some solutions regarding that. There are also suggestions she see the counselors at the international office at her university. The biggest advice they are giving her now is to take back what she's told her parents - that she made a mistake and is still Muslim. Taking her words back is something that could help her until she gains independence. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spring Break - extra post

One of our members (who ran away from home and her parents set Hezbollah to kidnap and torture her - she has gained asylum in the US since) has a blog documenting her life as an ex-Muslim and what she endured at her home country in Lebanon. When she was a teen, she was forced to undergo a test to see if she was still a virgin by her parents. They sent her to a gynecologist who routinely conducted the test (and basically broke her Hippocratic oath to take care of her patients) and in her blog the member has written about this experience.
If you have a blog, you can trace what Google search terms lead to your blog. The author of the blog shared a list of terms that led people to her blog in the last 30 days only. It is pretty sickening and sad how obsessed with "virginity" and virginity tests people are in that culture. The following is a link to the image with a list of the search terms. The commentary isn't by me but by the author of the blog:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Week 5

I waited til today to make my post because I wanted to publish on Women's Day. EXMNA compiled powerful testimonies from their women members about how they viewed their self worth and self image in an Islamic country of family and it was published today. I will post a few very moving quotes from the publication:

“When I was Muslim, I was called a “whore” or a “slut” from around the age of 10 for wanting to a classmate’s birthday party or stay at school past 3 pm to do after school activities. I didn’t even understand what sex was, and I thought of myself as a whore for wanting to do certain normal things. That means every time I had a thought in my head about wanting to attend a sleepover with my friends or join the soccer team at school and wear the shorts that came along with the uniform, I thought of myself as a whore. That’s very, very powerful.” – Taslima

"I need not feel shame. I had never thought of it consciously prior to leaving Islam, but as a woman I always sat with some shame – of my body and my voice, for example. I was always learning to hide myself. I could not be too outspoken, too bold. I am still struggling to let myself speak. And I still find myself thinking I am a burden. But I have lost so much shame. I realized there is no reason to hide myself. For who? For a man? For all men? Why? I refuse.” – Noura

"As a Muslim girl, one of the most traumatic experiences, that troubled my heart, nearly broke my spirit, made me ashamed of my female body, my female self, was that notorious saying of Muhammad standing on the footsteps of hell and proclaiming that most of the screams, and burning flesh were that of women. I asked my 12 year old self, what is it about women that makes her more deceitful, more disloyal to her god and his messenger than her brothers? Why did I have to be born within such a lascivious group? What a curse! Why does god damn some for eternity and endlessly reward others?” – Nandi

"Ten years ago, I thought of my body as a dirty, unfortunate vessel that just didn’t seem as perfect as that of a man. My mother used to shame me every time my period would come around. Even after I was disowned, I would shy away from my boyfriends and tuck away that dirty, bloody little secret. But recently, I've come to cherish the sheer beauty and complexity of the female human body.” – Maha

"I wear bright colors and let the skin drink those delicious, warm rays of the sun. No longer are the days that I fear that my father would punish me for wearing short sleeved shirts." – Maha 

Find the entire post here:

These posts were so moving. Even though (thankfully) I didn't have to endure these awful feelings, I know people who did and still do to this day. I am so happy that these women are more empowered and independent today and that they live a happy, fulfilling and free life. I am also very happy for all the support they give and receive to/from one another. Reading and writing these testimonials have been very therapeutic for everyone involved.