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Burned Alive
by Souad


A Victim of the Law of Men
By Souad
Warner Books Hardcover
Publication date: May 11, 2004
272 pages
ISBN: 0-446-53346-7

CONTACT: Chris Dao


Burned Alive
A Victim of the Law of Men


"...this memoir, although painful to read, will be of urgent interest to anyone concerned with international human rights."
-Publishers Weekly

BURNED ALIVE: A Victim of the Law of Men (Warner Books Hardcover; May 11, 2004; $24.00) is the first true account ever published by a victim of an honor crime. Souad, a young woman from the West Bank, miraculously survived an "honor killing," the brutal tradition-still practiced today-of cleansing a family's honor by murdering the offending female. In a land where all follow the law of man without question, a family's honor can be tarnished by as little as a rumor that a woman has been looking at a man who is not her husband.

Like all women in her village, Souad's life was one of obedience, hard labor, and acceptance of daily beatings by her father and brother. At the age of seventeen, Souad was considered old to be unmarried, but she had to wait for her older sisters to marry first. Unfortunately, while waiting for her father to arrange marriages for her sisters, she fell in love with a man. A man who promised to ask her father for permission to marry her.

It was not long into their secret relationship that Souad discovered that she was pregnant. As soon as her condition was discovered, her family felt they needed to erase their shame in the only way acceptable: they planned her murder. After pouring petrol on Souad, her brother-in-law set her on fire. Miraculously, she escaped with burns over 90% of her body and survived, despite the local hospital's policy of allowing honor killing victims to die. With great determination and help from a visiting European human welfare volunteer, Souad was able to leave the West Bank and now lives in Europe.

Souad has made a new life for herself. She was reunited with the son she bore in the West Bank, has married, and has two young daughters. Feeling that she was spared death for a reason, Souad has dedicated her life to educating people about the cruelty of honor crimes. To this day, she must keep her identity and her location a secret from her family in the Middle East-wearing a mask whenever photographed.

Currently, there are minimal or sometimes no penalties for honor killings, as they are seen as a cultural tradition in the Middle East and parts of Asia. Incredibly, there are now reports of families bringing this horrific practice to the western world.

BURNED ALIVE was a #1 bestseller in France and translation rights to BURNED ALIVE have been sold throughout the world.

Souad lives in Europe with her husband and two young daughters. She has been reunited with her son and they visit frequently. To this day, she must keep her identity and her location of her family a secret.

From National Geographic News…

Yasmeen Hassan, author of The Haven Becomes Hell: A Study of Domestic Violence in Pakistan, a human rights report published in March 1999, estimated that in 1998, 888 women were the victims of honor killings in the single province of Punjab. Similar figures were recorded for 1999. In Sindh province, some 300 women died in 1997, according to Pakistan's independent Human Rights Commission.

The UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 1993. Various UN agencies provide the following estimates:

• In 1999, more than two-thirds of all murders in Gaza strip and West Bank were most likely honor killings. In Jordan there are an average of 23 such murders per year.

• Thirty-six honor crimes were reported in Lebanon between 1996 and 1998, mainly in small cities and villages. Reports indicate that offenders are often under 18 and that in their communities they are sometimes treated as heroes.

• In Yemen as many as 400 honor killings took place in 1997. In Egypt there were 52 reported honor crimes in 1997.

• In Bangladesh between 1996 and 1998 there was a four-fold increase in reported acid attacks from 47 to more than 200.

• In India, it is estimated that more than 5,000 women are killed each year because their in-laws consider their dowries inadequate. A tiny percentage of their murderers are brought to justice.

National Geographic News
February 12, 2002

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