13 January 2017

Jamila Aït-Abbas: La Fatiha : Née en France, mariée de force en Algérie (2003)

Jamila Aït-Abbas (1954—2013) only wrote this book, which is her autobiography: it not only involves details of her enforced marriage, rape by her 'husband' and the aftermath, but also her life story up to the time of publication.

The principal issue here, the nineteen-year-old innocent born in France of Algerian parents and lured to Algeria where she was forced into a 'marriage' (including the forging of her signature on the wedding certificate) to a man whom she detested, tied to the 'marriage' bed and raped by her 'husband', ostensibly has the makings of a horror story, although it's not: there are no graphic descriptions of violence in the book, which is more concerned with Jamila Aït-Abba's struggle to free herself from the appalling fate reserved for her by relatives and 'in-laws', and her move towards a future of freedom in which she can make her own decisions, carve out her own future.

There is much drama here, particularly with Jamila escaping from her 'husband' (who even tracks her down to Rouen), being saved by a Catholic group, continuing her university education and finding satisfaction in work, later (after the annulment of the first 'marriage') finding happiness as a wife and a mother.

Not that she actually loved her second husband, a faithful, loving and hardworking man at the beginning whose behaviour becomes unsatisfactory: Jamila has shown how she has the mental strength to deal with situations she doesn't like, and her strength is shown when she (after one failed attempt to patch things up) just walks out on her second husband. The kind of book that inspires.

Below is a shot from the columbarium, with a photo of Jamila Aït-Abbas, in Père-Lachaise:

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