Burned Alive is a story about a woman from Palestine, who was burned alive by her own brother-in-law because she was pregnant (of course, outside marriage). The man was asked the favour by her own parents, supported by her own brother and married sister.
Reading it was very depressing. She told all the stories about the society in her village, how women are literally worth less than animals. Only men are counted in terms of everything. Women cannot live without men. Without men in the family, the women are just a bunch of flocks. There is no one owns them. It’s very normal for the men to hit and struck his wife and all his daughters, even for a very simple mistake, like dropping some water on the floor or picking a green tomato. She said her father hit her much harder than he hit the donkey. Women do not speak, think, or even see people in the street. If a girl looks at a man in the street, she’d be called charmuta, a whore.
(And I thought the old Chinese/Asian society was pretty bad already…)
The whole book was very disturbing. Her experiences were so bad, even to feel a touch of it made me sick. I can’t say it’s a fun book to read. I always felt something heavy in my stomach every time I finished a bit of it.
Before I read the book, even until in the middle, I thought it would tell all the history of how it happened, what, why, when, where, someone rescued her and she finally was freed to really live her life.
But she got to the point where the brother-in-law came, poured gasoline all over her, and burned her, at about less than halfway of the book. And so I half thought, shouldn’t this lie at somewhere before the end? What else is she going to tell us?
Yeah, more than half a book was the story of how she built her life after the freak incident.
It is very hard to live. Much harder than to die.
Her rescuer was a woman names Jacqueline, that works for an organization that fights against the injustice of the customs that victimize women who are subjected to criminal traditions. Her line was put very nicely, which I think is the core of the story. During the whole obstacles she must have gone through to save this girl, she fought her own battle inside, because this she fully realized:
“Keeping her from dying is one thing. Making her live again is another.”
~ Finished on 31 July 2004