This pretty much made my day.
One of the most controversial topics in Jordanian (& Arab) Feminist issues is Honour Killings. Honour Killings are in no way a “religious matter” as some people try to identify them (in regards to their defense or their protest). Honour Killings is a phenomenon that is the outcome of sexism and lack of education. It is about the control over a woman’s body by her family members–often, the men. It is when a family member kills a woman if she is suspected of having soiled her family’s honour by engaging in sexual activity (or in some cases a mere nonsexual relationship) outside of marriage. What makes this social issue even more problematic is that there is a legally reduced sentence for murderes accused of Honour Killings in Jordan.
There have been numerous activist groups trying to combat Honour Killings and spread awareness in Jordan. There are petitions being signed and books written on the subject; and people have been trying to change the law, as well as the cultural view toward the moral legitimacy of Honour Killings, for years.
Now, this is the part I am excited about:
A nine year old girl, who was told she was unable to sign a petition called “Where do We Stand?” protesting Honour Killings because she is not of legal age yet, wrote this lovely letter : (translation from Arabic is my own, & am afraid so much of the cuteness and brilliance of this is lost between languages)
I am Raneem Abdullah.
I am a nine year old girl, and I cannot sign the “Where do we stand?” petition. But I am a girl, and I am against Honour Killings committed against girls, because it is not anyone’s right to rob someone else of their right to live. I have to defend my rights and express my protest against killing girls, and protest this view that is not so nice toward girls in society.
I have to defend my rights and learn how to do it now.
So what if I am only nine years old?
I am going to sign anyway:
Raneem Rashad Abdullah Mohammed
A reader may think: why is this so impressive?
I think it is extremely impressive that a nine-year- old has such a strong opinion. It is so impressive that she feels that she should (& can!) express her opinion. It is so impressive that she does not understand why her age would not allow her to have an opinion. The amount of awareness and defiance in this letter amazes me.
In my experience, many people in Jordan, especially women, do not feel “entitled” to a voice, or to such a strong opinion. I remember discussing Honour Killings in an undergraduate class where almost all of the 30 students did not understand the problematic logic behind a woman “representing” her family’s honour, or the horrifying logic leading to a murder justified in the name of “honour”.
Reading this Feminist statement coming from a nine year old girl restores my belief that change is possible. This feminist challenges my belief that violence against women is not as engrained in our Jordanian (or American for that matter, regarding issues of sexual violence, rights to abortion, etc) cultural psyches as I have always thought it is.