Saturday, January 09, 2010

Do They Hear You When You Cry

Do They Hear You When You Cry by Fauziya Kassindja

Fauziya Kassindja grew up in Togo, Africa in a privileged setting. Her father did not believe in the tribal practices of polygamy and Female Genital Mutilation (FMG). Fauziya's father died suddenly and she was pulled out of school and put into an arranged marriage as a fourth wife and then told to prepare herself for FMG.

Kassindja's sister went against her own husband to save her sister and help her to escape the country. But escape to what?

Kassindja ended up going the the US and applying for asylum. The customs officers immediately sent her to jail where she was kept for sixteen months. Fauziya was treated worse than the worst offender as she had no status. She was housed with murderers. Her health deteriorated to near death without any concern of any official.

Kassindja was lucky in that her cousin went above and beyond to help her and she met Layli Bashir, a law student and Karen Musalo, a refugee lawyer who helped her and eventually got her asylum.

This book really puts the immigration policy of the United States under intense scrutiny. I believe that Canada's policy is much the same although evidently we were among the first to grant asylum for FMG applicants. Kassindja was a brave and very strong person to withstand all the trials and tribulations and yes, cruelty she encountered on her journey. There has to be a better way to grant asylum to those who truly need it and send away those who don't.

Every single person should read this book as a means to better understand political imprisonment, human rights and how immigration policies do not work.

First Line: "I returned to my cell after lunch."



No comments: