By Karen Boone
I was born in England in 1962, but moved to Nairobi, Kenya when I was 19 years old. Around the same time my father was living and working in Saudi Arabia, in the northern city of Tabuk. I would often visit him there, and I will never forget what I saw and experienced: the treatment of women was horrifying.
I would watch men riding in their trucks with the goats in the front seat and the women and the camels in the back. When we were out shopping men would push in front of us to be served, and it did not matter because we were women. Because my sister and I walked around without our heads covered we were pinched, and men would stop their cars in the middle of the road hoping we would walk in front of them. We were fearful of the religious police who would rap our ankles with sticks if we were on the street too close to the times that the stores closed. My father told me stories of men drowning their daughters in swimming pools and women being stoned to death in the marketplace with a dump truck full of stones and rocks.
Women were not allowed to own anything. Women had no rights. Experiencing this instilled into me a horror of the lifestyle for those women.
When I read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book Infidel, it was a clear message to me that at last someone from the inside who had lived this life and experienced this treatment first hand was willing to step up and speak about what was going on. Her story was stunning. This is when I first became involved with the AHA Foundation. I choose to support this organization as opposed to others working on the same issues because I choose to support Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I have so much admiration for her fortitude, intelligence, and commitment to helping others. If I encounter someone who is thinking about donating and supporting the AHA Foundation I tell them to do it.
I have given the book Infidel to many friends but the feedback has been minimal. I think there is a genuine inability to comprehend that this truly occurs. I think there is also a fear of interfering with another religion. It is hard for those who have never been exposed to this type of treatment to grasp this concept as a reality.
I am still stunned by the naivety of so many, and realize how politically incorrect it has become to question any doctrine of this lifestyle. To this day I struggle with my extremely intelligent friends who refuse to believe that there is female circumcision occurring in the United States. They, along with the press, seem to ignore the honor killings that happen here, all while discussing women’s rights and the glass ceiling. To really change the movement and end honor violence over the next five years, the press needs to get behind this issue and expose it for the problem it is.
I am thrilled to support this organization, even if it only is in a token way through donations. So many people ignore this terrible situation. And why, I do not know.