The Killing of Sushmita Banerjee – The Importance of Telling Your Story

Sep 6, 2013 by

The Killing of Sushmita Banerjee – The Importance of Telling Your Story

I live in America and most days my biggest concerns are making sure all are off to school or work before I begin my day of wrestling with words.

Today I was saddened because I heard of yesterday’s murder of Sushmita Banerjee, an Indian woman who was executed by the Taliban. It isn’t known for certain that she was targeted because of the memoir she wrote (published in 1997 and then made into a movie in 2003), or if her execution was triggered by something else.

This story brings to mind that not everyone lives a relatively easy life, and her story put many of my pressing concerns into perspective.

I’m not likely to be executed for my words or my beliefs.

Banerjee’s memoir, A Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife, covers her marriage to Jaanbaz in India against the approval of her parents because he was Muslim while she was Hindu. After her move to Afghanistan, life turned into a bitter existence as the Taliban increased their rule over the country, especially the increasingly strict restrictions placed on women.

Starting in 1994:

  • Women were forced to wear head-to-to burqas.
  • Women were banned from working.
  • Girls were no longer allowed to attend school.
  • Medical care for women deteriorated as male doctors were only allowed to examine women fully clothed.

Banerjee tried many times to escape from Afghanistan to get away from the Taliban rule and was finally successful in August 1995. However, an execution order was placed on her for her efforts to escape.

Was Banerjee finally executed yesterday for trying to leave Afghanistan?  If so, why did it take 17 years? Was she executed for bringing the horrors of life as a woman under Taliban rule to light in her memoir?

Or, is there something else to the story?

So far, I haven’t been able to get my hands on her book, but the DVD of her story is available on Amazon and other retailers.  Do those who watch it realize that it is a true story? Or are they simply entertained, believing it to be just another “story” from the movie moguls seeking to entertain the masses?Escape from the Taliban

I’m infinitely saddened by the death of Sushmita Banerjee. But I’m even more determined now to pursue the dream of telling personal story for everyone.  While most of us don’t live under Taliban rule, we do have our stories to tell.

By sharing our stories, we become more globally aware of the likenesses and differences we share with humanity around the world. Is it OK to just ignore the plight of women in Afghanistan just because your biggest concern today is something far less frightening than being ruled by the Taliban?

While I cannot do anything that make a BIG change in the lives of women in the Middle East, I can no longer put my head in the sand and believe that it doesn’t affect me.

Everything that happens in the world impacts us.

Share these stories with your children, your friends, your neighbors.

Becoming aware of world events connects us on a global scale, and sharing our stories bring awareness to injustice as well as hope to those who dream of escaping their nightmares.



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