Human Rights Activist Halima Addou Recounts Her Experiences as a Woman in Islamic Society

April 08, 2010

Halima Addou, a target of oppression before she fled her homeland of Algeria, spoke at Mount Union College on March 26 as a part of Women's History Month. She spoke about her own experiences as a woman in Islamic society, and also how various oppressive and terrorist acts are justified.


Addou, a former Algerian talk show host, fled to the United States, more specifically, Wisconsin, after she was repeatedly threatened and singled out for "rep- resenting western values, according to them [terrorists]." After she witnessed her friends and family being threatened and attacked while Addou was the intended target, she decided to leave Algeria.

Although she has been away from terrorist regimes for years, she said that she still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. "I could not sleep for many years. It was very hard." While in the United States, she taught herself English, and also passed the bar exam in 1999.

Addou also mentioned various places around the world that practice various forms of oppression of women. She noted that through selective abortion and the murder of baby girls, the population is off balance by about 70 million females. And, she says, this is done in the name of tradition.

She blames the patriarchal society seen all over the world, including in the United States, for oppressive actions. The United Nations, she said, defends genital mutilations by saying that it is a tradition and that we must respect "cultural specificity." She also said that men do not get involved in the prevention of oppression because they are products of their society. "Change can only come from us. Women," she said.

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