The meaning of women’s rights varies with nationality and culture. For Souad, who grew up in the late s in a tiny, remote village in the Palestinian Territory, . Read “Burned Alive A Victim of the Law of Men” by Souad with Rakuten Kobo. A year-old girl Get $5 off your first eBook; Get your first audiobook for free. Burned Alive: a Victim of the Law of Men is a best-selling book, ostensibly a first- person account of an attempted honor killing. The author, Souad, is described as a Palestinian woman now living in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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As a teenager in the West Bank, Soauad became pregnant by a local boy.

He ‘shamed’ Palestinian family condemned her to death and ffee was set on fire by her brother-in-law. Every year, thousands of women in the Middle East die in ‘honour killings’. This is her harrowing story.

He came towards me and said, with a smile: Suddenly I felt a cold liquid running over my head; I was on fire. I slapped at my hair. My dress billowed out behind me. Was it on fire, too? I smelt the petrol and ran, the hem of my dress getting in the way. Did he run after me? Was he waiting for me to fall so he could watch me go up in flames? My name is Souad. My story began almost 25 years ago in my native village in the West Bank, a tiny place, in a region then occupied by the Israelis.

If I named my village, I could be in danger, even though I am now thousands of miles sojad. In my village I am officially dead; if I were to go back today they would try to kill me a second time bburned the honour of my family.

It’s the law of the land. It’s because I am a woman. A woman must walk fast, head down, as if counting the number of steps she’s taking. She may never stray from alkve path or look up, for if a man catches her eye, the whole village labels her a charmuta, prostitute. A girl must be married before she can raise her eyes and look straight ahead, or go into a shop, or pluck her eyebrows and wear spuad.

My mother was married at If a girl is still alve by that age, the village begins to make fun of her. But a girl must wait her turn in the family to be married. The eldest daughter first, then the others.

There were four girls of marrying age in our household. There were also two half-sisters, by our father’s second wife, who were still children. The one male child of the family, who was born in glory among all these daughters, was our brother Assad. Twenty-five years ago, I spoke only Arabic; I’d hardly been further than a few kilometres beyond the last house on the dirt road. I knew there were cities further away but I had never seen them. I did not know if the earth was round or flat.


What I did know was that we had to hate the Jews, who had taken our land; my father called them halouf, pigs. We were forbidden to go near them for fear of becoming pigs like them.

My brother went to school, but the girls did not. Where I come from, being born a girl is a curse: At most, only two or three girls are needed to help with the housework, burnde work on the land and tend the animals. Our stone house was big, and surrounded by a wall with a large door of grey iron. Once we were inside, it closed on us to prevent us going out. You could enter by this door from the outside, but you could not go out again.

My father and mother went out, but not us girls.

Burned Alive – Wikipedia

My brother went out and came back through that door; he went to the cinema – he did as he liked. A day without a beating was unusual. My father would shout, “Why have the sheep come back by themselves? Once he tied up my sister Kainat and me, our hands behind our backs, our legs bound, and a scarf over our mouths to stop us screaming.

We stayed like that all night, tied to a gate in the stable.

Burned alive

This was life in our village. The girls and women in the other houses were beaten regularly, too. You could hear the crying. My sister was beaten by her husband and she brought shame on our family when she came home to complain. My mother had 14 children, but only five survived.

One day I learned why. I must have been less than 10; Noura, my elder sister, was with me. We came back from the fields, and found my mother lying on the floor on a sheepskin.

She was giving birth, and my aunt Salima was with her. There were cries from my mother and then from the baby. Very quickly my mother took the sheepskin and smothered the baby. I saw the baby move once, and then it was over. She was a girl. I saw my mother do it this first time, then a second time. I’m not sure I was present for the third, but I knew about it. And I heard Noura say to her: That was how my mother got rid of the seven daughters she had after Hanan, the last survivor.

From then on I hid and cried every time my father killed a sheep or a chicken. As long as I lived with my parents, I feared I would die suddenly. I was afraid of going up a ladder when my father was below. I was afraid of the hatchet used for chopping the wood, afraid of the well when I went for water. That well was my greatest terror, and my mother’s too.


Sometimes, coming back from the fields with the animals, my elder sister Kainat and I talked about what might happen: And what if Father has killed Mother? A blow with a stone is all it would take! The possibility of our mother dying preoccupied us more than the death of a sister, because there were always other sisters. Our mother was often beaten, just as we were. Sometimes she tried to intervene when my father hit us especially viciously, and then he’d turn on her, knocking her down and pulling out her hair.

I haven’t seen my brother Assad for 25 years, but I would like to ask him one question: She was not thin like me. She was dreamy and never very attentive to what was said to her.

When she came to help us pick olives, she worked and moved slowly. This wasn’t usual in my family; you walked fast, you worked fast, you ran out to bring the animals.

I was in the house one day when I heard shouting. My little sisters and I ran to see what was happening.

Review: Memoir: Burned Alive by Souad Bantam | The Sunday Times

Hanan was sitting on the floor, arms and legs flailing, and Assad was leaning over her, strangling her with the telephone souaad. We pressed ourselves against the wall to make ourselves disappear.

Assad must have heard us come in because he yelled “Rouhi! When my parents came home, my mother spoke to Assad. I saw her crying, but I know now she was just pretending: I’ve come to understand how things happen to girls in my land. It is decided at a family meeting, and on the fatal day the parents are never present. Only the one who has been chosen to do the killing is with the intended victim.

I don’t know why Hanan was condemned to die. Did she go out alone? Was she seen speaking to a man? Was she denounced by a neighbour? It doesn’t take much for everyone to see a girl as a charmuta who has brought shame to the family and must die to restore their honour – as well souadd that of the entire village.

As I grew up, I waited hopefully for a marriage proposal. I was 18 by then and had grown to hate village weddings because all the girls made fun of me. No one asked for Kainat, my elder sister; she had resigned herself to remaining an old maid. I found this terribly depressing, because I had to wait until Kainat was married before I could take a husband. Then I discovered that a neighbour, Faiez, had asked for me.

Faiez burnd in the house opposite ours.

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