June 11, 2007

Scream quietly...in the Blue.


I remember reading a book some years back. I cannot remember the name of the author though. I did warn you that I am bad with names. But the exact title is well lodged in my mind: "Scream quietly or the neighbors will hear".

The book was about female battering. You know what woman battering is don't you?

It is basically when a man beats, strikes, punches, kicks, pounds...a woman and sometimes severly enough that she ends up in hospital and sometimes severly enough to bring about her death.


It is interesting to note that the verb "to batter" is also used in cooking i.e to make a dough. The French have similar anologies between battering a woman and food. They would say he turned her into a "compote".(compote is cooked fruits). Ditto for Arabic expressions. They would say he broke her bones, they became like "soup"...
Am sure other "cultures" have more analogies of the same sort. I will leave it to you to dig up some expressions that you are familiar with, along the same lines...

Did you notice something here? A common trait in the use of words, in the use of language?

It is as if they allude to render that "thing" liquefied, easily moulded, soft to the palate...
In sum, easily mixed and easily digestible. I will also leave it to you to make further associations on the same theme.

No society is immune from woman battering. I will not dwell on figures now. All societies are guilty of it. East and West, equally guilty. And R.Kipling was wrong when he said that East and West shall never meet. They do meet. They met. They met in Iraq.

They met in Iraq, the land, the earth, the Mother...
They also met and agreed on her daughters bodies - Iraqi Women.

That body which, since the "liberation", has become a public commodity. A public thing. A thing to be veiled, a thing to be controlled, a thing to be ordered about, a thing to be disposed of, a thing to be battered, moulded, shaped into a liquefied, soft, yielding thing. A digestible thing.

Yes, batter, pound, strike, punch, beat, rape, torture, imprison...that "thing" and ultimately dispose of it, annihilate it.

Both "East and West" are bent on the destruction of Iraqi women.
It is as if, plundered, occupied Iraq has become the center point, the "lieu" where these forces can pour out their venom, their deep hatred, their frustrated instincts, their perversities...In sum their collective misogyny.

And those who know me a little by now, know what I mean by East & West. Just in case you are new to this blog. East is metaphorically used for Iran and West for none other but the "greatest democracy on earth", America.


"Scream quietly" is what Salam's kidnappers shouted at her.

I find myself searching for new names all the time. Changing a name in my head a thousand times. I now fear mentioning the neighborhood too. The militias trace cell phone calls, names, neighborhoods, relatives....etc...and am serious.

Salam is a female relative. She lives in a sunni area. A sunni area that is now infiltrated by the militias from Iran. The militias of the Mullahs. A sunni area thought to be a walled fortress. No such thing, alas.

A few days ago she went during broad daylight to her son's school. He is only 11. She wanted to get his exam results. She was ecstatic when the teacher told her that he passed. She said to herself, with all what they are going through, he still managed to pass...
She took the piece of paper. One piece of good news she thought to herself.

As she was leaving the gate of the school, a group of armed men approached her and pushed her at gunpoint into a car. She was kidnapped for 48 hours. That same day, 4 female teachers were shot in the head as they walked out from the gates of the schools...

I was not able to speak to Salam and you will know why later on. But her husband told me and I had lots of difficulty understanding what he was saying. He was crying so hard and I had never seen him cry that way before...I had to make him repeat his sentences several times before I got all the details of her abduction, of her kidnapping.

Salam is a very pretty woman in her 30's and she is veiled. So I guess her "dress mode" was not an issue...but then you never know.

A mother of two. A postgraduate in Arabic literature, an ex-college teacher.
She was laid off her work like so many others. She lives with her husband and ailing sick father. Her husband is unemployed. He too was sacked from his job since he belongs to the wrong sect. They live off 75$ a month. This is the money they get from her father's old age pension.

The kidnappers called themselves a certain X "Jihad" group. No one has heard of them before. The only thing we know and that is according to Salam "they spoke Arabic with a very heavy foreign accent".
They were 5 of them. They tied her hands and feet. And kept on beating her until they broke her jaw and bruised her all over. She shouted "What do you want from me?"

They threatened that if she shouts one more time, they will gang rape her and they kicked her up some more...

They interrogated her for 24 hours. They wanted to know everything and I mean everything.

Where she lives, who pays the rent, who her relatives are (and she did give names under duress), where they live, what their phone numbers are, how much money they had, where did the money come from, who were the people she mingled with, what is her husband's job, her father's, her mother's, her grandparents, her ancestors... And they beat her up some more...

And everytime she screamed, they threatened rape and told her to be quiet. She told them "Remember your own mothers, remember your own sisters...How can you rape me?"

They laughed and said..."And you know how to respond too huh?" And they pounded her some more. "Where did you learn to talk that way?"...And the interrogation continued...
"What did you study, where did you study, why did you study...What else do you know, what other replies will you dare give us...?" And they beat her up some more...

Salam was finally released from the "X " group for a sum of 1'500$. That is all the family had. A bit of savings to help them make it through until "God decides this curse be alleviated"...
Upon her release her husband packed a little suitcase and moved to another neighborhood. Also I must not forget to mention that his son's name is very sunni.And now they fear for his life too.
Salam is now lying in bed. She is too broken and too bruised to move or talk. Forget about taking her to a hospital... Did I say hospital? Ah seems I did. You know what a hospital is? Good for you.

Of course, the first reaction we had was "Did they rape her?" As if this phallic weapon is constantly branded over our heads like a sword about to slit our throats...


Salam is blue all over...Bruised blue, red blue, red coagulated blue, hematomas blue ,blue black...covering her already frail body.
Blue, blue, blue...And deeper shades of blues...Deeper blues in the heart, intense blues reaching the soul...
Blue bodies, blue souls...Sanguinary blues.


Scream quietly while we beat you up. Scream quietly while we insult you. Scream quietly while we order you about. Scream quietly while we trade in you...Scream quietly while we rape you. Scream quietly...move quietly...cry quietly...


Damascus, Amman - Hundreds of young Iraqi women scream quietly everynight after closing time of the seedy bars.
They scream quietly under the weight of the clients, forcing them into positions they would not dare use with their own "respectable" wives...
They scream quietly as they pass on the 10$ to their families to feed them.
They scream quietly when they find out they have contracted STD, they scream quietly when they find out they are pregnant, they scream quietly when they are called "cheap Iraqi whores..."

Iraqi prisons - Thousands of women linger there with no trial. They sit and they scream quietly. They are tortured, raped and are asked to scream quietly. They contracted AIDS, TB, Syphilis, Hepatitis and a thousand other ailments but they are to scream quietly...And when they walk to the gallows, they are to scream and die quietly...


America, this is your New Democracy. Iran, this is your play field. Iraq has become your dumping grounds.
The dumping ground for your greed, promiscuity, illnesses, perversion, hatred, racism, barbarism, but above all your misogyny. Yes YOUR misogyny.

Your misogyny coupled with their misogyny. Your hatred coupled with their hatred. Your sexism coupled with their sexism. Your brutality coupled with their brutality. Your violence coupled with their violence....

No, it is not only a dual occupation for Iraqi women.It is a thousand occupations.
No, it is not only a backlash for Iraqi women...It is a thousand lashes...
It is beyond rape, it is beyond anything that words can describe...It is even beyond death.
It is as if all the hateful shadows, lurking monsters, of "Maleness" are being poured over our heads, into our bodies, right into our souls...into future generations, into the future, into for Ever...

Control, impoverish, kidnap, batter, rape, torture, prostitution, prisons, hanging, death....A series of steps on the one and same continuum of male hatred. That archaic hatred that has erupted along with your occupation.

My God, every time this realization dawns on me, I scream. Scream in the darkness, scream in the solitude, scream at my keyboard, scream quietly...

So go and tell your "anti-war" websites, groups, newspapers...
Tell them that every time they carry Muqtada and his drill boys on their shoulders, in praise of the not so-hidden blood filled hand of Iran...
Next time, when you sit and circulate another one of your potential, probable, possible, "war pimp alerts"...
Next time, when your "respectable" "anti-war" "feminists" sit together and debate the intricacies and "dialects" of Patriarchy and Imperialism...
Next time, when you are pedantically engaged in semantics on the exact terminology of political correctness... Next time.

Next time, remind them.
Remind them of the thousands of widowed Salams, the thousands of displaced Salams, the thousands of impoverished Salams, the thousands of imprisoned, tortured, sick, raped Salams, the thousands of kidnapped, raped, battered Salams, the thousands of young Salams forced to sell their bodies in cheap night clubs, the thousands of old Salams sleeping and begging in the streets, the thousands of orphaned Salams being traded in...
Yes remind them.

And next time you sit and wonder why I detest you so much...Remember that I am sitting here, behind this borrowed keyboard. My only refuge into sanity was endlessly hacked and finally destroyed into silence.
Yes borrowed. Borrowed computer, borrowed money, borrowed roof, borrowed lives, borrowed time...
Remember me sitting here, along with thousands other Salams screaming quietly into the night...

But knowing you, I can already picture that sly gleeful smile of satisfaction on your face...And knowing you, I can already see that indifference that I am so familiar with...
You are probably thinking to yourself -

This is nothing...
It's just "The Other", an "other".
another woman, yet another woman...
It's nothing.
It's just an Iraqi woman bruised,
just another Arab woman's blues.


Painting: Iraqi artist, Thamer Dawood.