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Friday, December 21, 2007

Banished within and without

I was deeply touched and inspired this week by two women, and although the stories and background of these women are completely different, the essence is the same: imprisonment.

One is Taslima Nasrin - a world famous and outspoken women’s rights activist, forced into exile and a life under constant threat. Ms Nasrin wrote a letter entitled ‘Banished within and without” about how she lives her life: “my world is gradually shrinking. I, who once roamed the streets without a care in the world, am now shackled. Always outspoken, I am now silenced, unable to demonstrate, left without the means of protesting for what I hold dear. […] I spend my existence surrounded by walls: a prisoner.”

The other story concerns a woman who has spent time in an Asian prison and now she is trying to help her friends that are left ‘in hell’ without any contact with the outside world.

Whether physical or mental, and regardless of reason, I can’t think of anything worse than being denied your personal freedom. I can’t imagine how it would feel to be expelled and forced into exile in a foreign country; to be sentenced to life in a remote and primitive prison, tortured in a secret detention center, or how and if I would survive if I was sold into sexual slavery or forced labour.

What I do know is that these are some of the major human rights catastrophes of our time. In Christmas times like this, and whilst being all excited about going back home to friends and family, my thoughts are with all those women, men and children who are unable to do so.

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