It is not an accident that my heroine, Arianna, is a journalist on assignment in Afghanistan. Nor is it an accident that she was there to produce an exposé on the plight of Muslim women under the Taliban. The terrible treatment of women in Muslim majority countries is, I believe, the number one human rights issue of the 21st century. Women in these countries are powerless to speak for themselves so I believe it is incumbent upon the free women of Western societies to speak for them.
Take for example, the young girl, Malala Yousafzai, who was shot at point blank range on a bus by the Taliban in Pakistan. Wise beyond her years, she nearly lost her life trying to speak up for the right of young girls to be educated in her country. For her bravery and courage in speaking out in this area, she became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She is an amazing young lady.
But lack of opportunity for an education is but one of the human rights denied to women in many Muslim countries. Women in general are the victims of gender apartheid. First controlled by their father, then their husband, after his death, she is controlled by her sons. A woman is never allowed to be alone and must always be accompanied by a man. In fact, there is a scene in my book where the hero, Zach, must come to my heroine’s rescue for the crime of simply being out late at night.
And the list of human rights violations against women in these countries goes on and on: female gender mutilation, domestic violence/wife beating, forced marriages, child marriages, incest, and in the extreme, honor killings. All of these issues have been highlighted in The Honor Diaries movie, a documentary you should see if you have a chance.
In my book, I make a deliberate attempt to highlight this abuse of women. But understand. My story first and foremost is a sexy, contemporary romance. In the beginning of the story, we find Arianna wearing a burqa in order to secretly gather information for a documentary on the treatment of women under the Taliban. Readers will see however, that by the end of the story, she trades one veil for another sort of veil. Her life with the hero will cause her to live under his “veil” of protection. I think readers will find it to be an interesting contrast.
I am pleased however, that in my own small way, I was able to focus attention on one of the most important human rights issue of the 21st century. Only by bringing this abuse to the attention of many, can we begin to solve it. This is my humble contribution to that effort.
Deny Tomorrow http://tinyurl.com/pu3n8mb