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Burned Alive: A Survivor of an "Honor Killing" Speaks Out Paperback – May 13, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When she was 18, her brother-in-law poured gasoline on her and set her aflame. She was meant to die because she was pregnant and unmarried, bringing disgrace to her parents. But she survived, and now, 25 years later, "Souad" bears witness to the horror of "honor crimes" that kill thousands of women every year in many countries across the world. She begins with a bitter account of what it was like to grow up female in a remote Palestinian village in the Occupied Territory. "Being born a girl was a curse." Unlike her brother, she never went to school. Her father beat her daily. She worked as a shepherd, a "consenting slave." She barely glimpsed the city, where women were free to work and move around. Her rescuer was Jacqueline, a European aid worker, who was in the Middle East to care for children in distress and who arranged for the badly burned young woman to be flown to Switzerland, where she and her newborn baby received medical care and support. Today Souad is "somewhere in Europe," married with three children, her testimony still anonymous for her protection. Occasional chapters by Jacqueline fill in the wider context, but it's the immediacy of the shocking first-person narrative that drives home the statistics. Like Mende Nazer's Slave [BKL D 1 03], this book is a call to action. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Souad lives with her husband, and must still keep her identity and location secret from her family

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; Reprint edition (May 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446694878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446694872
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 129 people found the following review helpful By KBM on July 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
THis is a true story despite the fact that some of these reviewers don't want to admit it. Even the reviewer from Egypt knows this happened.

Unfortunately, it seems as if people just do not want to face the truth about a culture that minimizes or degrades the role of women in society. Souad's story is NOT the exception to the rule. Honor killings happen more often than we know. The problem I think the reviewers are having is that Souad lived and is drawing attention to a problem that exists, usually silencing the victims. Here's a case where the victim wasn't silenced afterall.

From day ONE, boys are welcomed and girls are not. Furthermore, men can have up to four wives. They do not consult their first wife and ask her if they will accept wife number 2,3, or 4! One can argue that it's a cultural preference and he or she would be correct that it's a cultural preference for the men. From what I've read, it's usually not the preference for the women involved although, admittedly, many do not question their fate. Practicing monogomy increases the woman's value in our society. Although Souad's father did NOT have other wives, the value system those in these countries have specifically devalue women. The Taliban in Afghanistan was borne from orthodoxy in Islam. Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia is also extreme.

The author's retelling of her story was moving. She freely admits that some memories are unclear. She's tormented about the fact that she cannot remember her sister's name. She recounts her life, however, with extreme honesty. She's emotional, yet removed. I am happy that this woman is living happily presently and has reunited with her son, noting that she still has to deal with her literal and figurative scars of her former life.

This might not be a usual story, but it is indeed representative of this repressive and misogynistic culture.
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55 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Rose VINE VOICE on August 23, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I want to thank you for writing this book. It is a horrific account of one woman, who is also an example of many women around the world whose human rights are less than that of an animal. I am so sorry for all you have been through.

It is because of the stories that I have read that have caused me to join - Human Rights Watch - Defending Human Rights Worldwide. The barbaric torture of women, the honor killings, the rape, stoning, burning alive will come to an end. Your story along with a few others was the major catalyst in my decision for helping to bring this to an end in any way I can.

Reading about what this girl endured was chilling. It is a book like this that causes humanity to take a stand for humanity. Souad is a hero. She speaks out. Because of her words and courage she is a catalyst for humanitarian change, especially for women and children around the world.

This is a book that I feel should be required reading in every school, in every land, until this torture comes to an end.

Read this book! This is a story where you might ask "why" something like this could happen. Maybe the reason is so we see to it that it never happens again.
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48 of 55 people found the following review helpful By JGC on September 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
"Burned Alive" is an insightful account of a heinous and violent crime, that is unfortunately rather common.

Souad describes thoughtfully how she was treated worse than an animal while she lived as a slave; owned by her father in a primitive West Bank Village. On a daily basis Souad was the victim of beatings and horrible abuse. Why is that?

Because like virtually all third-world/Islamic States, women are property; not human-beings. Souad is nothing if not honest and brave as she describes in detail how it is a sin simply to be born female. She even describes how her mother murdered her own newborn baby daughters because of their gender!

Souad was forbidden to ever speak to a man and could only go outside to work her long daily chores. When she was still a teenager one of her neighbors raped her repeatedly. She was young and vulnerable and this pig told her that he "loved" her and would "marry" her. But after Souad became pregnant this rapist abandoned her!

Poor Souad goes into detail about how she tried to hide her pregnancy because she knew that it would surely mean her execution. When her family was finally aware of her pregnancy (more than 6 months later), they had her brother-in-law douse her with gasoline and set her on fire. Soaud bravely describes how this felt and how she was treated.

This story is very sad, shocking, tragic but also hopeful. There are millions and millions of women who have been victims of these horrible honor murders. Souad is unique because she is a survivor. She survived her attempted murder. Her family left her for dead, but she survived. And she was able to start a new life!

My hope is that this book will be passed around in the Islamic third-world villages where women are treated worse than garbage.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Accidental Expatriot on September 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Once you open this book, don't plan to do much else until you've reached the last page. It is that engrossing. Simply written, it tells a story of a world in which women are worth less, even to their own mothers, than the animals they care for. A world where even little girls are subjected to what is for us unthinkable violence -- and where, at any moment, they may be condemned to death by the very family members whose role, to our Western way of thinking, should be to treasure and protect them.

And for what crimes? Raising their eyes from their feet while on the street? Talking to a boy they are not related to? When Souad makes it clear to the boy next door that she wants to meet him and talk to him, we want to shout, "Don't! Don't!"

A simple book, an easy read -- but not a book you read and forget. Many lessons to be learned. Many, many lessons.
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