The title I’m reviewing today – I Should Have Honor by Khalida Brohi – was one of my selections for my September 2018 post on new releases that I was excited about. I’ve been trying to read books on the experience of women living in Middle Eastern (and adjacent) countries, all of which have been equal parts upsetting and inspiring.
My plan is to eventually to put together a book list of these titles – mostly memoirs – and to include I Should Have Honor in that list. I didn’t want to wait till then to review Khalida Brohi’s memoir, however, both because it was a Net Galley ARC and because I wanted to give you insight into my thoughts on it sooner.
I Should Have Honor by Khalida Brohi
Publication Date: September 4th 2018
Publisher: Random House
Length In Hardcover: 224 pages
Goodreads Rating: 4.32
From a young age, Khalida Brohi was raised to believe in the sanctity of arranged marriage. But her father refused to let her become a child bride. He was a man who believed in education, not just for himself but for his daughters, and Khalida grew up thinking she would become the first female doctor in her small village.
Everything shifted for Khalida when she found out that her beloved cousin had been murdered by her uncle in a tradition known as “honor killing.” Her cousin’s crime? She had fallen in love with a man who was not her betrothed. This moment ignited the spark in Khalida Brohi that inspired a globe-spanning career as an activist, beginning at the age of sixteen. Learning more about the treatment of women in Pakistan. As I mentioned in the intro, I’ve been trying to educate myself about the treatment of women in those Middle Eastern countries where they are discriminated against (and neighboring countries in the region as well). I had already read Malala Yousafzai’s memoir I Am Malala about her near-fatal experience fighting for her right to be educated in Pakistan. Brohi’s memoir gave me a different lens on many of the same ways in which women struggle to have any independence in Pakistan. Her efforts were less focused on education and more on saving women from arranged marriages as child brides, empowering them by helping them gain an income, and trying to stop them being murdered senselessly in honor killings.
Subverting concept of honor. Brohi’s memoir is focused in particular on the concept of honor within her culture, and the way in which it’s bastardized through faulty reasoning that leads to the subjugation of women. Brohi wants to subvert this concept of honor from being the yoke through which women are forced to obey their families at all cost, made to hide themselves away and even be killed, back into what honor truly means. To Brohi, demonstrating honor should mean protecting your family members from harm, allowing them to follow their hearts, enabling them to fulfill their talents and aspirations and respecting them as individuals.
Brohi’s personal story. In her memoir, Brohi gets very personal about her journey to independence and the struggles her family have faced. She was propelled into her career as an activist by finding out that one of her own cousins has become the victim of an honor killing. Brohi’s path to activism causes her to clash with her own family, to cross oceans in order to advocate for women’s rights, and even to find love in an unexpected way. I found it particularly interesting to read about the strong tension even Brohi experiences between her desire for independence and her familial duty. Brohi’s own father – who spurred her to pursue an education – is ambivalent in helping her when she starts to show more agency in her activism.
More information on her activism. The personal focus of the memoir sometimes didn’t leave enough room to delve deeper into Brohi’s work as an activist. The reader gets broad stroke descriptions of the organization’s she’s set up in Pakistan to help women earn their own income, and through it, gain independence and respect. I really would have liked to learn more about Brohi’s organizational and practical struggle in setting up these non-profits, however. It’s clear that it must have been a nearly superhuman challenge, and I think Brohi almost sells herself short in her accomplishments by presenting it essentially as a fait accompli in her memoir.
At its heart, this memoir is a personal story of succeeding against the odds, but it will also inform you on the discrimination experienced by women in Pakistan and inspire you to consider the true meaning of honor.
Khalida Brohi is the Founder and Executive Director of Sughar Foundation USA, a non-profit dedicated to providing tribal and rural women in Pakistan with opportunities to evaluate their abilities and nurture their leadership skills in an environment of growth and development.
Her work is driven by the unshakeable belief that it is possible to build a society where women are not killed for honor, but are honored and given equal status.
Khalida has twice been named among Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for Social Entrepreneurship, awarded the inaugural Emerging Global Leader Award by Northwestern University, named Director’s Fellow at MIT Media Lab, and received the ANGEL Award by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center. Khalida has also been among NewsWeeks’ 25 under 25 Women of Impact, The Nation’s 100 Women Who Matter in Pakistan, awarded the Woman of Impact Award by Women in the World Foundation, the Women of Excellence Award by the government of Sindh Province, Pakistan, as well as others.
Have you read I Should Have Honor? What did you think? If not would you be interested in reading it? Let me know in the comments.
You can also read my other recent Just Read reviews, including for historical mystery Call Of The Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks, true crime title A False Report by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, contemporary fiction novel The Wangs Vs. The World by Jade Chang and historical fiction title The Immortalists By Chloe Benjamin.
Please note this post contains affiliate links from Book Depository. Thank you to the publisher Random House and to Net Galley for the advance review copy of this title I received in exchange for an honest review.