I blogged recently about the murder of Leila Hussein, the mother of Rand Abdel-Qader, a 17 yo girl who was murdered by her father for having a crush on a British soldier in Iraq. Hussein had divorced and left her husband after their daughter's murder. A womens' group in Basra hid Hussein and was trying to smuggle her out of the country for her own safety. She was murdered as she and two women from the group were moving her from one place to another along her escape. The two women with Hussein were also shot, but they survived. In my earlier post I said:
More importantly, I don't know what can be done. Several commenters on the Feministe thread express frustration at the seemingly non-existent assistance one can give to women like Rand and Leila. I used to volunteer on the help line at a womens' shelter (also at a nursing home and an animal shelter, but it's the womens' shelter volunteering that I miss most; I miss the cats at the shelter, but I do not miss all the cleaning, the scooping, the stinking, the medicating, the feeding, etc. etc., in short, all the dirty work; with 6 cats, I get enough of that at home nowadays) and my contributions were always visible, measurable, etc. I knew that I was helping people, that I was getting the right information to the people who needed it, that I was listening to people who needed to talk, etc. Direct assistance is surely not the only way to help others, but women suffering under oppressive patriarchal societies seem so far away, so unreachable, so untouchable to those outside the society willing to help (and, to a lesser extent, probably to those within as well). One commenter had several suggestions, most of which I'll call 'administrative', although I do not mean to suggest anything negative about them. I'll guess that the most effective suggestion would be the economic one: boycott offending countries. So, unfortunately, I have nothing practical to offer.
I received the following email from a reader:
I realize there is no shortage of ghastly events everywhere that demand our attention but each of us is especially touched by one or other. The case of Leila Hussein has been hammering round my head since Sunday. She vanished very quickly from the press and is remembered in just a few blogs. I wrote to Al- Jazeera to ask why there was no coverage but have received no reply. It occurred to me that maybe a teeshirt campaign would take off - I imagined millions of people wearing her image to demonstrate that her courage was not forgotten and to show the Islamic world that we are disgusted and outraged and perhaps to encourage sensitive and intelligent Muslims to wear it also to distance themselves from such practices. Letters have been written to the authorities in Basra to press for the arrest of the father and brothers but I feel this campaign could address the issue in another way. What do you think?