It was an honor taking part of SEVEN yesterday, an international play that highlights that stories of seven women activists around the world. During the reading, I came across this story of a Nigerian woman whose family wanted to marry her off to an old Saudi man and whom escaped before her wedding dishonouring her family. The script goes on to describe how this Nigerian woman wanted to reconcile with her family and how after two years she seized the chance of a holy day and went back, apologising for her father, who welcomed her back into the family with open arms.
That is when it hit me how similar this story to the ending of Rana’s story in Aroos Amman. How Rana’s father forgave her after two years of her escaping the country and stood up for her against his family and social mandates.
Many have claimed that the ending of Rana’s story in the book is far fetched, they claimed that such fathers’ reaction doesn’t exist. In reality, I believe that it exists more often than we realize. Both of those stories are a reflection of real stories. Those men, who we fail to highlight their courageous stand in championing the love of their daughters and their freedom of choice against strong social values, are real. Men are not strong as we believe they are. We tend to tie manhood with strength and then translate that into giving men the role of imposing inherited social values that hurt our beloved ones. Men flexes their muscles to apply the social laws that they can’t stand up to. That’s not a real strength for me, that is not noble, and not manly. Real strength is standing up for the ones you love, respect their freedom of choice, and protect it.
That is not easy when societies tend to ridicule these men and humiliate them. It requires real men to break out this circle of abuse and champion women rights.
We usually talk tend to talk about empowering women, but I would like to see some work done in terms of men empowerment. Empowerment to break off the expected cultural heritage of imposing an unjust behaviour on relative females, empowerment to give up some inherited unfair privileges, and empowerment to realize that a man’s identity lies in his human sense rather than practicing power over less privileges ones in society.