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Devotion and Defiance: My Journey in Love, Faith and Politics Hardcover – March 3, 2014
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In this riveting memoir, Shahid, a journalist and two-term member of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, recounts her fight for the rights of women and the poor in Pakistan. The politics are intense, and the stories Shahid shares about the people she tries to help are heartbreaking and enraging. Through this highly charged narrative, she weaves her own story as well, and women readers in particular will find themselves identifying strongly with her struggle to balance work and home, especially during difficult pregnancies. Shahid does a beautiful job of revealing Pakistani society, in both her own upper-middle-class home and the poverty-stricken areas she visits for her work. She exposes the stark conflict between urban and rural life, which is destabilizing the country in myriad ways. Her frustrations with corrupt and complacent politicians is palpable, and her determination to make things right for victims of acid attacks, child brides, and more marks her as a superhero. In this energizing and inspiring account, Shahid is simply amazing, and her story must be read to be believed. --Colleen Mondor
A poignant story of a happy partnership that encouraged one Pakistani woman to face her oppressors. "
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By Tariq M Javed (Toronto) Published in the July 11th Edition of "The Miracle News" Surrey BC Canada
Following is my review on book entitled "Devotion and Defiance: My Journey in Love, Faith and Politics Author: Humaira Awais Shahid with Kelly Horan" Published by: W W Norton & Company:
Initially, the genius author (Humaira) a university professor taught English literature but she preferred to discuss women issues, because the culture of taking advantage of the weaker by the stronger was unacceptable by her, so she chose to give her students an empowering vision of womanhood.
After marrying Ednan, she was invited to join her father in law Mr. Shahid's newspaper empire, where Ednan was already involved helping his dad. She started taking care of the "women's section" of "Khabrain," one of Pakistan's leading Urdu newspapers.
She wrote editorials and articles regarding the battered women and the abused girls.
With the `helpline set up,' the silent `cases of abuse' started emerging in the office of "Khabrain" on a much faster rate.
A team of investigators helped the author pin point area of violation, abuser and the abused parties. After the diagnosis, the author used to take action. Acid attacks on women, the trading of girls as currency in tribal disputes, and other abuses needed immediate attention. Through her editorials she let the world know what the problem really was.
She targeted three areas: the customary vani in rural areas, using girls and women as collateral for loans, and the revengeful acid attacks on the vulnerable women/girls/wives for disloyalty or alleged cheating. In search of answers, she never hesitated to personally visit the rural Punchayats, and the involved abused women and girls despite the tough opposition of the close relatives. And, she usually succeeded in digging out the facts of the case.
The author, as the dedicated advocate for women's rights, made her way to win one of the reserve seats in the provincial parliament of the Punjab, where she struggled to protect the vulnerable women, girls, and the poor.
Now she managed as editor of the Vista Magazine of the popular English Newspaper, "The Post."
The fact: Poverty makes the people vulnerable and the predators are always looking for hunting them at will; hence, the "have-nots" usually end up getting trapped one way or another. Thus, battling for the noble cause has always been author's agenda with passion.
The "God fearing author" has quoted in her book quite a few of relevant verses from the noble Qur'an where needed; she includes the last sermon of Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him in the book as well.
Referring to the author, the revenue committee members would say "the mountain is coming," while bureaucrats used to say Humaira is "the unmanageable woman in Pakistan."
"There is always light at the end of the tunnel;" is the message of hope given by the author.
Criminally motivated private money lenders are actually loan sharks who are hell bent to exploit the poor class. Luckily, the results-oriented brilliant author has been in touch with such vulnerable people face to face.
The author loves righting the wrongs committed against the most vulnerable people.
With legal cover in place, the author has paved the way - giving the green light for all concerned to go for helping the needy without hesitation or fear of reprisals.
The trend is the rich is becoming richer while the richer is becoming the richest - all due to mindset of aggressive behavior at the cost of exploitation of the vulnerable society at the hands of rogue feudal system and the network of underworld dons/ anti social rascals.
The atmosphere of insecurity of the `have nots' can't be reversed as long as the culture of "Might is Right" prevails.
But the stinky status quo would change if the like minded people come on board with the author.
Author's inspirational autobiography is a blend of her personal, social and political life. Having attained a position of influence as the provincial parliamentarian, she went ahead pushing for legislation on acid crimes, defying those who discouraged her saying it was impossible. She managed well to bring the divided people on single page in order to find support for the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act.
The author had one on one meeting with high profile dignitaries including Pres. Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, the cabinet members and Gov. Maqbool of the Punjab in connection with the long pending bill to curb private money lending. Yet, nothing happened beyond lip service.
Surprisingly, after so many extensions in the four years period, the private money lending bill was abruptly passed in just four and a half minutes after the demise of author's mentor Eddie.
Finally, the desired legislation was passed to outlaw the private money lending practice and enactments were in place for the protection of young girls and the vulnerable women.
The dedicated author's life is a lesson for others about surviving the tough challenges
It's established that even the fragile gender with a perfect head is strong enough to start creating an abuse-free environment for others. I strongly recommend everyone to purchase the book, as it's 'a must read' to learn more of the author's eye opener biography.
Author's narration of the fight for justice for women is the story of her marriage and family life. It's fascinating to know how she stood her grounds in the worst times of her life.
This book clearly shows that how a husband's support can inspire a woman to work beyond the boundaries.
It's a must read for those who are aware of the culture of Pakistan.