What is it like to be a young girl growing up in a repressive, extremist, and male-dominated society; a society in which all females, both young and old, have only one purpose in life? That purpose is to do whatever the males in her family tell her to do. And in Jadwa's family, she is the only female.
Her father Haamid is a violent man who is devoted to only two things: serving his own extreme version of Allah, and doing whatever his local Imam tells him to do. Haamid is barely aware he has a daughter, and fervently wishes he did not.
Jadwa's older brother Jameel, however, is not like his father at all. What Jameel wants more than anything else is a life of freedom; a life that allows him to think his own thoughts and dream his own dreams.
Jadwa, who is caught between these two worlds, struggles with questions of her own. What happened to her mother? What happened to her other brother Azeem? Where does her father go when he and the Imam disappear for days at a time? And how can she maintain her new friendship with a girl named Najya when Najya and her parents hold religious beliefs that are not only shocking. Their beliefs are the beliefs of infidels, totally opposite to the beliefs of Jadwa's father, the beliefs of the Imam, and the beliefs of the whole community in which Jadwa was born.
Jadwa also has other more personal issues to resolve. In an isolated, male-dominated society, how does a young girl like her grow into womanhood? Who can help her understand the many physical and emotional changes going on in her young body? And who can explain to her the sudden attraction she feels for the boys she sees in the marketplace, boys she never even noticed before?
Jadwa's central issue, however, is her desperate need for a real father, or even a father figure. What she wants most of all is someone who will provide her with the caring, the guidance, and the protection that every young girl everywhere wants. What Jadwa needs is someone who realizes she is not just a faceless shadow whose only role in life is to serve and obey in silence. She needs someone who sees her as a real person--a person with feelings, hopes, dreams, and desires.
By exploring her own life in a secret diary, Jadwa confronts all of these issues and many additional ones as well. Struggling with her own identity as a girl-soon-to-be-a-woman, she also explores and tries to understand her feelings about her father, her brother, her Imam, and her relationship with Allah Himself.
This is a story as current as the latest terrorist headline and as poignant as a starving child. In this case, the starving child is Jadwa herself. And what she is starving for is acceptance, understanding, and most of all, love.
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About the Author
This abuse has many causes. Poverty and ignorance are only two. Another, some would say an even more important and pervasive cause, is extremist religions. Whether it be an international organization or a local sect, extremist religions--either subtly or blatantly--have made the suppression and domination of women and girls one of their primary, if unspoken, tenets.
To some sectarian groups, it is obvious that their supreme being--whatever his name--cares more about male followers than female followers. And in the extreme manifestations of these groups, the suppression and domination of women and girls is often painfully and openly illustrated by cruelties such as beatings, rapes, female genital mutilations, and suicide bombings.
Another goal then of Aabra Publishing is to turn a spotlight on this outrage and to make it more visible. Our hope is that along with awareness will come change. It won't be quick, and it won't be easy. But the respect and dignity of every man, woman, and child should be the goal of each one of us. We at Aabra Publishing believe it is a goal that is worthy of whatever sacrifice is necessary, whatever effort is required.