Book Review: Our Women on the Ground

This is a book of essays written by 19 women journalists – sahafiyat – from the Arabic speaking world. Edited by Zahra Hankir, these stories are gut-wrenching and sometimes out right nerve wracking. Reading about their experiences sometimes made me very indignant too. It is no secret what women have to deal with in some countries on the pretense of culture, but some of their experiences still managed to appall me.

Calling these journalists brave is an understatement and quite patronising. These women are not only fighting for their voice to be heard, but also trying to fight for the rights of women in some of the most oppressive places in the world. They are also helping destroy the stereotypes that work against them, that put hurdles in their paths.

When I was assembling my reading list for the MENA challenge, I read some reviews on Goodreads about this book. Some of the reviewers were disappointed that issues such as honour killings in these cultures weren’t addressed. When I decided to read this book, I did not expect to read something about the societal ills that plague women in the Arabic-speaking world. The countries in the MENA region are like any other in the world. They too have their liberal, cosmopolitan centers of commerce, art and industry. They too struggle with ultra-conservatism like any other country. For me the fact that these women were journalists said enough about their gumption and was a sign of their rebellion against the patriarchy and societal norms.

If you want a nuanced and empathetic picture of what has been going on in the Arabic-speaking world for the last decade or two, then I highly recommend this book. The beauty of this book is that it provides a real view of the consequences of war. A view of the life that must go on while the bombs are falling. And of the life that remains after the bombs have destroyed everything. Set aside any pre-conceived notions and read this book with an open mind.


1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing this. Anita

    Liked by 1 person

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