The plight of two women is what haunts me. Two women whose faces I have never seen and who I cannot describe even one feature. If I were to see them face to face I would not recognize them, and yet they haunt me.
They are women trapped in a goldfish bowl, they scream, they cry out but the world outside the bowl in which they reside moves on, oblivious to their plight, their screams go unheard.
It brings back memories of another woman long ago, who felt as if she were trapped in a goldfish bowl of violence. She was alone in her fear and in her pain. She used to sit at the window of her home on a beautiful sunny day and look out, and watch the people going about their lives oblivious to her plight.
As she was face down on the floor and the punches and kicks were falling upon her, she would find herself thinking about how that old couple next door are probably sitting down to dinner, a very pleasant dinner where she asks how his day was and he regels her with stories and she laughs and laughs…..and they both are oblivious to the cries from the fish bowl.
She sits in the corner of the room as he holds the shotgun to her face; she’s long past fear now, just resigned to the facts. As he raves and shouts and threatens, she sees the lights of the cars going past and thinks of the people going to and fro. Some are going out to eat, some are on their way home, their radios are on, and they are bopping in time to the music, oblivious to the scene going on inside the fishbowl.
She was set free one day, by someone who loved her, someone who finally managed to see through the thick glass of the fishbowl she lived in. But who will set these two women free?
Perhaps they are free already, perhaps they have paid for their crimes with their lives, perhaps for them the nightmare has ended and the goldfish bowl that trapped them lies shattered in a pool of their blood. The thing that haunts me most is that I will never know.
You see, these two women, these brave two women reside in Al-Raqqu, Syria under the leadership and oppression of DAESH (also known as ISIS). They risked their lives to show the world what life inside the goldfish bowl of Sharia law under DAESH is like. They carried hidden cameras under their black tents; they did so in spite of the fact that had DAESH noticed this, had they been caught, they would have been subjected to a most terrible death.
As you watch their video you notice that you cannot see even the slightest bit of skin on any of the women. They are covered head to toe in black, like some great tent that enfolds about them and they look sort of like those PACMAN ghosts in the old video game, a blob with eyes peeking out.
Their video shows them moving about the city, dressed in their tents. They speak of terrible things, of killings and beatings and of fear and oppression. Amongst all that it seems rather strange to me that one of the most powerful parts of the video is nothing more than a beauty supply rack containing hair dye. A harmless enough item, used by women all over the world, and yet in this video it too represents the oppression they live under. Depicted is a rack of hair dye filled with a variety of colors and each and every box has the woman’s image blacked out. A rack of multi colored hair dyes and they all look identical. A box with a black shape that did represent a woman displaying the color hair of the dye but is now just a black blob.
What kind of man is threatened by an image of a woman on a hair dye box?
In the world in which these two women reside death is a constant companion. Executions are the norm. Heads displayed on the spikes of the fence that circle the roundabout are common. Nothing to see here folks….just heads on a spike….move along......don’t forget to stop and buy your hair dye.
Here women oppress woman, with gangs of DAESH women going about the city enforcing Sharia and checking on their sisters to make certain they are in compliance. To be found out of compliance can be a very costly mistake.
Here persons who are gay are thrown head first off the tops of high buildings. To be honest they are perhaps the lucky ones as some of the executions performed in this place are brutal, terribly brutal and to be launched from a tall building head first is perhaps a mercy.
Here in this place where these two women reside, there are slave markets. Men go there to purchase women and little girls. Women and little girls who have been ripped from their families, many watched their families brutally murdered, are sold to the highest bidder.
I think of these women often. I wonder if they are still alive. Do they hold onto hope or is all hope long since been lost?
At the end of the video one of them says “I long to take off the niqab and the darkness that cloaks us for good.”…………..”to be able to go out in the street without being scared.”……………..”nothing matters more than freedom.”
Oh my sisters, I see you in the fish bowl, and yet I am helpless to do anything. I have no power, no money, no means to free you! Rest assured my sisters, what I can do I have done. I have cried out again and again to my elected officials and I have prayed, I do pray, I will pray!
Oh Lord of mercy, Lord who heard the blood of Abel crying out to You from the ground, see Your daughters caught in slavery, in oppression, who live their lives in fear trapped under black tents, trapped in a place that should not even exist upon this world. Oh Lord see them! Deliver them! Come to them in their dreams with words of hope and life!
Oh Lord how the blood of this place much cry out, if Abel’s blood cried out then the cries rising up to You from this one town in Syria much be thundering, ear-piercing, tumultuous and loud enough to wake the dead. Oh Lord hear them, hear the cries of the blood that screams from Raqqa and hear the cries of these women enslaved in this horrible system of oppression and fear.
And Lord, if it is possible, let the world hear the cries of the blood, let the world hear the piercing cries of the blood of slaughtered innocents rising up to You.
Oh Lord have mercy upon these two brave women, and upon all the oppressed living in that terrible place. And not just that place Oh Lord, but to each and every soul who feels unseen, who lives under the threat of violence and death, who knows hopelessness…Oh Lord save. As You once saved me Oh Lord…….save them.
"We want the world to know," they say.
Read their story