A journalist in Jordan, Rana Husseini was the first reporter to bring the secretive practice of honor killings to the front pages of the daily papers.
does this gathering of human rights defenders over the next few
days mean to you?
These days have been marvelous. To bring humongous numbers of
human rights defenders together is an excellent opportunity for
all of us to get to know each others problems. This groupand
Kerryhave done a great job in giving us a chance to present
our own voices. And we represent the people whose rights have
been violated repeatedly. This is a great opportunity for us to
tell the stories.
will you take back to Jordan? If a friend asks you what this was
all about, what will you say?
I really can't express my feelings because I think it's wonderful.
I think it's a human issue, and it's very important. The [Speak
Truth to Power] book itself is a document that you can carry
around and show people that there are miseries everywhere in the
world. There are violations of human rights everywhere in the
world and there are people who are fighting these violations.
That means there is hope and Kerry brought this hope together
for all of us to know that we are not in the wrong. We are not
alone. There are other people taking on more serious issues, more
dangerous issues. These are people who believe in what they are
doing, people who believe that with their voices they will make
change. I think this is what's important.
you tell us about the issue of women gaining their rights throughtout
I think that women's issues are the same everywhere in the world,
even in the U.S. Women in general have not obtained their full
rights in some countries. It varies from country to another, but
what's important is that there are people talking about violations
against women. People learn; we learn from other countries who
have gained more rights. We learn and we teach others, we interact
together. This is the way to do it because in some countries,
women still lack a lot of rights. With more interaction, we can
learn more from each other's experience.
are honor killings?
Honor killings are when a relative, a male relative, decides to
kill his female relative because, in his point of view, she has
tarnished the family's honor. We're talking about getting involved
in a relationship, commiting adultery, maybe being a victim of
rape, incest. In some cases it's all based on rumors and suspicion..
was it that made you realize that just because these things may
be tradition, that this isn't the way the world has to work?
When I was younger, I would hear about these crimes. But my involvement
began when I started reporting for the Jordan Times in
1993. I was struck by a certain story that really moved me and
I really felt that women are really blamed for any act. They are
always accused of seducing men, of being the ones who are asking
for any act, and I feel that is my duty to tell the truth. Nobody
really cares about these crimes, most of these women are being
killed for no reason; of course, this is not to say that I support
women who commit a wrongful doing according to societybut
I don't support being killed for it either. I feel that I have
to tell my society, my people, decision makers that these crimes
do happen, not to turn a blind eye. We should admit that it happens
and talk about it.
did you meet Kerry Kennedy Cuomo?
She wrote me an e-mail because in 1998, I won the Reebok Human
Rights Awards for my work in human rightsfor fighting against
other crimes, actually. She e-mailed me and told me that she was
doing a book. I felt it was an honor for me to become a part of
her book. It's not only an honor, it's
a way to tell the world about the stories of women in Jordan,
and to let the world know that these things happen in Jordan and
elsewhere in the world, and they need to stop.
do you view this moment in the overall struggle for human rights?
Is it a turning point, a moment of opportunity, a moment to re-assess
where we are?
technology is going to help a lot in exposing many issues through
the circulation of information. The problem in our part of the
world, for example, is that they try to hide officials and governmental
officialsthey try to hide certain facts. With e-mail and
all the technology and media, it's very hard to for them to control
any unwanted informationwhich is what we are fighting for.
For now and the future, I think globalization and technology and
everything that is going on will help a lot in exposing all kinds
of violations against human beings.
keeps you going?
I've been accused of being backed by the West, of encouraging
sexual freedom for women. I have received all kind of accusations.
I don't really care. Because I know what I am doing is right.
I know that I am doing something. I am speaking for the women
who cannot speak for themselves. And I am doing something that
I know is backed by everything: religion, because killing is against
religion, and basic human rights. It's the right to live and I
don't think anyone would disagree.
are you convinced of this?
am convinced because this is the natural thing. People who are
trying to quell these rights or these demands are afraid to lose
power. It's all about power. People who are in power do not want
to give it up. Any human being would know that we are born equal.
We have the same rights, we are all entitled to a fair life. We
all have our own duties.
by OFFLINE ENTERTAINMENT GROUP