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Disfigured: A Saudi Woman's Story of Triumph…

Disfigured: A Saudi Woman's Story of Triumph over Violence

by Rania Al-baz

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  1. 00
    The Tale of Two Nazanins by Susan McClelland (meggyweg)
  2. 00
    In the Name of Honor: A Memoir by Mukhtar Mai (meggyweg)
    meggyweg: Both of these books are about women in Muslim male-dominated societies who were the victims of violence at men's hands, went public with what happened and took their cultures a step further into a more enlightened way of thinking.
  3. 00
    Love in a Headscarf by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed (meggyweg)
    meggyweg: The two authors seem to hold similar views about Islam and feminism.

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This is essentially a good story; the author however does not write well or present herself well- or perhaps presents herself better than she appears. While one would never wish such treatment on anyone, Al-Baz seems clueless as to why her husband would be displeased at his wife being "sad & bored" at a life consisting of "school, the shops and the kitchen". She stresses how awful her scars were, how terrible her face looked, but there are no illustrations in the book, and frankly those I found on the internet looked no worse than most faces after a beating. I think this is a beautiful wealthy woman who was abused. Awful and sad, but not the person to write this-or any-book.
  JeanetteSkwor | Jul 22, 2012 |
This is a pretty compelling story: a young Saudi wife and mother becomes one of the first female TV journalists in the country, and after her husband beats her nearly to death she becomes an activist for women's rights. Domestic violence had been endemic in Saudi Arabia but was pretty much ignored before the attack on Rania Al-baz; her status as a celebrity brought it to the forefront and made headlines around the planet. Rania justly points out that her husband's abuse had nothing to do with religion and that violent, pathologically jealous men come from all religions, countries and cultures everywhere in the world. She demonstrates that you can be a Muslim and a feminist at the same time.

That said, I don't think the book is very well-written. Scenes that should be dramatic -- like when Rania describes the beating that made Saudi history -- are hurried through and come off as flat. Also, some of what I've read in the memoir contradicts the press reports. Like, in the memoir Rania says she decided right away to ask for leniency for her husband because it would be better for their children, but in articles I've read about this it says she asked for leniency because she was told she would lose custody of the kids if she did not. She apparently changed his name for this memoir, as all the news articles I read refer to him by an entirely different name.

Worth reading, I guess, if you're interested in women's issues in the Middle East. I did learn a lot about Saudi Arabia. ( )
  meggyweg | May 9, 2010 |
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