Our Berkeley Branch of the California Writers Club had a speaker from Egypt, Laila el-Sissi, who was betrothed at the age of 14 to a 39-year-old man she had never met. Her book, “Out of the Shadow of Men,” tells of her life with an autocratic father and an older sister, also betrothed at 15 to a stranger.
Laila has quite a few things to say about the Islam religion and its rigid views on the role of women in it; that is to say, that women have almost no value in Muslim society. She did not sound bitter in her talk but as if she had escaped a prison camp.
The book has been translated into multiple languages and she anticipates returning to Egypt next month for book signings (which engendered an anxiety in me that some man might shoot her expecting to go to paradise for the act). But Laila is going back, nevertheless. May her life be saved.