Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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****Burned Alive

A Victim of the Law of Men

by Souad

in collaboration with Marie-Therese Cuny

Reviewed June 5, 2004.
Warner Books, New York, 2004.  225 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (362.82 SOU).
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #10, Personal Stories and Reflections

I hadn’t intended to check this book out, but I looked through it while processing it and was hooked.

Souad was born in a village in the West Bank, and lived like a slave to her family, along with her sisters and her mother.  She was often told that goats and sheep were more valuable than girls, and indeed they were treated much better.

Souad couldn’t get married until her older sister did, which was taking a very long time.  She was ashamed to go to weddings in the village.  When she heard that the neighbor across the street had asked about marrying her, she began to watch him.  Eventually, he met her in a field, and in her naivete, things got out of hand.  She loved him and thought that if she pleased him he would marry her.

When her family discovered she was pregnant, she had to die.  Her brother-in-law tried to light her on fire, but she survived.  While she was in the hospital, she still didn’t receive care, because no one wanted to interfere in such a case.  A doctor did prevent her mother from giving her poison.  Then a European woman who was working with abandoned babies heard about Souad.  She brought her to Europe, and helped her begin a new life.

Now, many years later, Souad is telling her story.  This story is mesmerizing and horribly sad.  She tells her horrible history in hopes of raising the awareness about the plight of other women in the same situation.  The book closes with an address of SURGIR, a Swiss foundation that works with such women, anywhere in the world.  Their web address is

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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