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Do They Hear You When You Cry? by Fauziya…
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Do They Hear You When You Cry? (edition 1998)

by Fauziya Kassindja, Layli Miller Bashir, Fauziya Kasinga

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3031236,938 (4.08)22
Member:PaulCranswick
Title:Do They Hear You When You Cry?
Authors:Fauziya Kassindja
Other authors:Layli Miller Bashir, Fauziya Kasinga
Info:Bantam Press (1998), Edition: New edition, Hardcover, 518 pages
Collections:Your library, Biography / Memoirs, To read
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Do They Hear You When You Cry by Fauziya Kassindja

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English (11)  Dutch (1)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
This is a first-hand account of what happens inside the women's section of an immigrant detention center (or the sections of a state prison or local jail that receive money from the INS to cage immigrants). The account is clearly written and the descriptions are horrifying. Either Kassindja or the person who helped her write the book also included facts and stats that put some of these horrifying realities into the context of racism (e.g. Kassindja had assumed that, because all of the immigrants around her are people of color, Whites do not have immigration issues. However, she (or her co-author) notes that, in reality, White immigrants facing deportation hearings or asylum proceedings are far more likely to be allowed to stay *outside* of prison while awaiting their hearings) and profit (e.g. the INS, in the mid-1990s, paid app $50 a day per person to the jails/prisons that agreed to cage them).

What bothered me (enough to take 2 stars off the book) is how the book falls into the binary of "good immigrants" and "bad criminals," as if women who have broken the law are somehow deserving of all the inhumanities and atrocities. While the book doesn't explicitly state that, it does give that general feeling, esp when Kassindja describes being housed with non-immigrant "convict" women. I understand that, at the time, she was frightened and probably bought all of the myths about women in prison, but given that someone (Kassindja or her co-author or her editor) took the time to put the farce of immigrant detention policies into context, I wish that that person (or those persons) had also added some facts in about the reality of women who end up in prison (i.e. they don't all smash chairs into each others' heads and they are not all scary monsters). For example, Kassindja was frightened when placed in a cell with a non-immigrant woman who had been convicted and sentenced to prison. The woman was a chain smoker, but when Kassindja, whose asthma got worse when around cigarette smoke, timidly asked her not to smoke in their shared cell, the woman agreed not to. But nowhere in that part of the book--or after--do any of the writers point out that, contrary to popular tv shows, women who end up in prison are not any more unreasonable, scary, violent, etc., than most of the women who never set foot inside a prison. (As someone who has worked with women currently in prison and women who have been released from prison for over a decade, I can attest to this.)

I also found the last chapters, which outlined the media exposure strategy that Kassindja's legal team used, very interesting and helpful, especially the lesson (not explicitly stated) that one can't rely on the government to do the right thing, but that public opinion and media exposure can shame them into doing so. (It did make me wonder though just how much more public opinion & media exposure would be needed today since all of the atrocities that Kassindja endured while in prison still exist today) ( )
  VikkiLaw | Apr 4, 2013 |
Heartbreaking story ( )
  Wordreader | Nov 14, 2011 |
This is the true story of an African girl, Fauziya Kassindja, who sought asylum in America to escape FGM (female genital mutilation) and an arranged marriage to a man 30 years her senior. Her family were devout Muslims, but her parents were more traditional and opposed FGM. Because her father was well-to-do he was able to protect Fauziya and her sisters from this practice. When her father died, Fauziya, who was only 17, was put on an airplane and sent to Germany to escape. She had only a suitcase, no contacts, and no knowledge of the language. After a couple of months she made her way to America because she had heard what a welcoming country this is. What a welcome she received. She was thrown in prison, sometimes with hardened criminals for 14 months. Until I read this book, I never realized how horrible refugees are treated. I never realized how horrible prisoners are treated. Not even the most basic human rights are respected. I didn't even knew that much about FGM. Know I know that hundreds of thousands of women are put through this ordeal, most often with no anesthesia. Girls of all ages go through this depending on the tradition of their culture, from infants to grown women. They have no choice; they have no voice. They all experience excruciating pain, sometimes severe bleeding, infections, and even death. This practice devalues women. What impressed me about Fauziya is that she never ever lost her faith in God. Every day she made time to pray follow her faith the best she could. I guess I can say this book was a real eye-opener for me. ( )
  little-sparrow | Nov 4, 2010 |
This is a book about an important subject: the work to get crimes specifically targeted toward women recognized as crimes against humanity. Domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, weaponized rape, enforced impregnation, enforced abortion are all crimes that target women, and the lawyers involved in the Kassindja case worked to make them a recognized basis for claiming asylum. The book also covers the imprisonment of immigrants and the terrible conditions inside prisons. Lawyers, for a change come off as hard working, dedicated agents of social justice (except, strangely the ones who are paid). ( )
  Citizenjoyce | Jun 30, 2010 |
This is an excellent, powerful and disturbing memoir/true story about a Togolese woman's escape from genital mutilation at the hands of her decades-older husband (of which, she is the fourth wife) and cruel aunt ~ all on the heels of her Father's death (whom she loved greatly). Ms. Kassindja's story is harrowing enough right there, but most of her story, in fact, takes place in U.S. prisons, where asylum seekers live out their days. As with most people, how horribly these already persecuted refugees are treated is one of the biggest eye openers in decades of reading. At times, they are treated more cruelly and worse than American prisoners in for murder or other felonies. The ending is ultimately uplifting, as it says on the cover, as Ms. Kassindja does get asylum, but at a very, very steep price. This is a well written book and the law was fascinating (I am a lawyer though), the hearings and process frighteningly realistic and as they often are, futile and frustrating. I do feel this book was a bit long and could have been edited down some, but that is a small complaint. A lot happened and Kassindja paved the way way for other women seeking asylum based on gender-based persecution (rape, FGM and torture). Highly recommended for a reader who would like to seek change in the world on a global level and to find out what really happens to asylum seekers once they enter the United States, and the legal system as well. ( )
  CarolynSchroeder | Jul 25, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385319940, Paperback)

Fauziya Kassindja describes her upbringing in a small Western Africa village as "part modern, part traditional, and Muslim throughout." Her Muslim father did not force his daughters to wear veils and encouraged their individualism. Most importantly, Kassindja's father instilled in her a distrust and fear of female circumcision, a controversial procedure still performed in many parts of the world. Tragically for Fauziya, he would die an untimely death, but his emphatic disgust at this dangerous and life-threatening operation had a remarkable effect on his daughter. She would flee the country just hours before her own circumcision, eventually arriving in the United States, where she faced an immigration nightmare.

Fauziya recounts her harrowing ordeals in both Africa and the United States with eloquence and remarkable depth. Her initial naïveté in assuming that she would automatically gain asylum only adds to the tragedy of her story, as she instead faces isolation and religious persecution in high-security prisons. She graphically describes the horrors of strip searches and a terrible sickness that was ignored by prison staff.

This is a book of unspeakable despair put into words as well as a remarkable friendship forged between Fauziya and her lawyer (and contributing editor) Layli Miller Bashir, who was at the fore of Fauziya's case and brought national attention to the plight of these females seeking asylum. Fauziya gained her political asylum in June 1996, but the book ends on a cautionary note; the immigration process for these women is still arduous and often unsuccessful.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:49 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"A true story of persecution, friendship, and ultimate triumph, Do They Hear You When You Cry chronicles the struggles of two extraordinary women: Fauziya Kassindja, who fled her African homeland to escape female genital mutilation only to be locked up in American prisons for sixteen months; and Layli Miller Bashir, a driven young law student who fought for Fauziya's freedom." "Here, for the first time, is Fauziya's dramatic personal story, told in her own words, vividly detailing her life as a young woman in Togo and her nightmarish day-to-day existence in U.S. prisons. It is a story of faith and freedom, courage and inspiration."--Jacket.… (more)

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