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Do They Hear You When You Cry Paperback – January 12, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 529 pages
  • Publisher: Delta (January 12, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385319940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385319942
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Kassindja was at the center of the landmark U.S. case that legitimized giving asylum to a woman who flees her country to avoid ritual genital mutilation. This is her story?and that of her lawyer, Bashir?who took up her cause after Kassindja was imprisoned by the INS upon arriving here from Togo.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

More people need to read this book as I am sure they, too, will be similarly moved.
Elise Hiller (
I am an attorney and I have some knowledge of immigration law, but what this book revealed about the inner workings of our system appalled me.
Mom of Two
I was so pleased to find while reading this book that the author was very fair in her portrayal of all of the events that took place.
Trudy J Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Carey on January 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
There are some books that are so wonderful, so intense, that I simply get lost in them for the few days it takes me to finish them, and once I'm done, I want to share it with the world. This is one of those books, a truly moving, inspiring, fascinating, terrifying, heart-breaking and rewarding tale.
Fauziya Kassindja is a Muslim African woman raised by a father she adored who did not adhere to many of the more restrictive Islamic customs relating to women. Upon his death, however, Fauziya is faced with a forced marriage and forced female circumcision and flees first to Germany and then to the United States, where she is promptly locked away in prision, initially denied asylum and kept imprisoned for an unbelievable amount of time.
The story itself is both fascinating and heart-breaking, but Fauziya tells it with such detail and brutal honesty that it becomes even more powerful. She creates a beautiful picture of her childhood in Africa and life with her beloved father and family, and she conveys clearly and easily her naivete about laws and customs as she went first to the strange land and then to the literal and figurative prison of America. Her ambivalence about America - as the land of hope and escape turned jail - is understandable and she describes why a return to the horrors that awaited her at home suddenly seemed better than remaining in the series of prisons to which she was assigned.
What makes Fauziya such a compelling figure - a real heroine - is her honesty and her struggle to stand up for her beliefs. She personifies the adage that courage is being scared but 'doing it anyway.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The beautiful yet shocking true story of a young woman who ran from her home in Togo to escape genital mutilation. She came to the United States hoping to gain asylum but because she did not have the proper papers and because at the time FGM was not grounds for political asylum she spent over a year locked up with other people trying to enter the country without legal reason. This book will make you angry at the injustices people face in the United States when trying to escape persecution in their own countries, but will help restore your faith in humanity when you read about all the people who were willing to work so hard to get Fauziya Kassindja citizenship here so she wouldn't be returned to Togo to face being genitally mutilated.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "neeterskeeter27" on October 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"My father was a modern man in a traditional culture who neither repudiated that culture nor let himself be bound by it. He embraced some parts of it, rejected others, and never stopped reevaluating his beliefs about good and bad, right and wrong. He also never deviated from his Muslim faith. We, his daughters, were the same- part modern, part traditional, and Muslim throughout". ~Fauziya Kassindja, Do They Hear You When You Cry, "Muslim Girl"
This book is the true life story of Fauziya Kassindja, who lived in Togo, West Africa, for the first sixteen years of her life. Her father, an influencial man in her small town society, had always protected her from the dangers that most girls faced as part of her culture. However, when he died, his property (the house where she lived with her mother and sisters) was given to her aunt and uncle, who were very traditional. She was pledged to be married to a man three times her age who already had three wives, whom she was expected to serve. She was also being prepared to undergo what is none in Togo as Female Circumsism and what is known in the U.S. as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Fauziya was afraid of having her sacred, female parts destroyed and did not want to live with this man and his wives. A friend told her she could come to America, which helps victims from other country find safety, and he got her a passport. She was young and didn't know what was going on, and when she got to the U.S., she was put in jail. In this maximum-security ward, the illegal immigrants were treated worse than the prisoners convicted of major crimes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "hee-hee" on April 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a law student, I studied the process of refugees applying for asylum in the United States, but this autobiographical story added a much-needed human dimension to the process. The picture offered by Ms. Kassindja shamed me as a citizen of the United States. This is supposed to be a country that offers refuge to the tired, oppressed and persecuted, but the "Welcome" Ms. Kassindja recieved, and her subsequent detention, shows the callous disregard for humanity that has grown in U.S. Immigration policy.
This story offers a day-by-day look at the process of U.S. Immigration policy, its political nature and one woman's struggle to gain her freedom from Female Genital Mutilation and an arranged marriage to a man who already had 3 wives.
I immediately felt a bond to Fauzy and wept at the treatment our country gave her. The judges and processes portrayed are a realistic and tragic picture of U.S. Immigration processes here in Pennsylvania.
This is not a look at a trajedy from a far away place that took place a long time ago - this is STILL happening to detainees in the U.S.
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