Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Samira Bellil

She died far too young:

Samira Bellil, whose book recounting gang rape she suffered as a teenager in a tough Paris suburb put her in the avant-garde of a small movement fighting for French Muslim women's rights, has died of stomach cancer. She was 31.
She died Friday in Paris, according to her publisher Editions Denoel.
Bellil's 2002 autobiographical narrative, "Dans l'Enfer des Tournantes" (In the Hell of Gang Rape), explores the violence she endured during her childhood in a tough Parisian suburb, from drugs to gang rapes at the age of 13.
The book, written in the street language Bellil grew up speaking, was the final step in her fight to regain a sense of self-worth and quickly became a best seller.
Bellil herself was rejected and abused for bringing charges against her aggressors following the gang rape, thus breaking the law of silence that reigns in the high-rise zones where men and boys hold sway.
The publication gave France a rare firsthand account of the troubles faced by girls in the heavily immigrant suburbs that ring major French cities.
It also put Bellil in the forefront of a small movement fighting to improve the lot of Muslim women and girls trapped in what she called the "cultural shackles" of the suburbs.
Bellil was considered the "godmother" of the womens' rights group "Ni Putes Ni Soumises" (Neither Whores Nor Submissive.)