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Nuruddin Farah’s Women: a Challenge to Somalian Patriarchal System

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The plight of women and the roles of women in the Somali society as depicted in Nuruddin Farah’s novels are evidenced by the examination of the female characters in From a Crooked Rib and Sardines. These female characters struggled to attain the position that the needed to achieve as women in the Somali society which is under the patriarchal system.

The characteristics of each and every woman in From a Crooked Rib is portrayed clearly to emphasize the state and condition of women in Somali society.

Ebla is the main character whose migration from one place to another took her to the next level of imagination about the people and the place. At first this does not helped her, because she started to believe in people and in their words.

Women are not considered equal to male and this made the female protagonists in both the novel to fight for their rights. In Islamic patriarchal culture, women are valued as weaker sex. Their strength is not equal to men. Women can bear anything if she is prone to that situation and she could survive it. Because women are beaten up by the men and they suffocated with the tortures given by the men in their community.

Women are given negative self-image and they are restricted to travel along to know the tradition and culture of other people and this is why these women are naïve and innocent who refuses to come outside of their home to explore and to collaborate with the society. This benefitted men to keep women at home by suppressing and making her to do all household activities by herself.

Woman accepts herself as weak, naive, illiterate, brainless and so on. Women have more superstitious belief than men and the reason behind it is they are not educated. Her power is limited in both her father’s home and in her husband’s home and their abuse is unavoidable.

Both Ebla and Medina has the limited power when they are under the control of either their husband or their father. But both women unleash their capacity when they are not surrounded by their men.

Sexual abuse is not the only abusing exist in this world. But a woman can be abused in various ways like getting her married to a man without her permission, refusing her to get educated, locked her up with the household activities and the like that makes her to suffer psychologically by not giving her freedom to think. The above mentioned barriers were broken away by Ebla and Medina.

Genital mutilation or infibulation or female circumcision is unquestionably imposed on the Somali women and it has become a torture rather to be a customary Islamic practice. Women are forced to endure such things like genital mutilation, forced polygamous marriage and domestic violence.

The process of circumcision makes her to feel inferior to men. Her prudence is lacking when she is held in low esteem and men does not have any sympathetic concern over women. Women are projected in all Somali novel like she is used as a tool for the expansion of their clan that is to give birth and bringing up the children, to sleep with, and they are not good for any other purpose.

Primarily, the tradition of oppression comes from the home of the Grand Patriarch. The grand patriarch might be the father or the husband. The Grand Patriarch is the head of a Muslim family in their society has the unlimited power over his family and the rules should be followed by all the embers in the family including his wife and his son.

The Grand patriarch will not tolerate others view on his decision and on him. Except the few grand patriarchs, there are strict followers in their society who abuses them both mentally and physically because of their limitless power over them. This cruel action made Nassar’s father to commit suicide because of the demeaning treatment of Nassar’s grandfather who is a patriarch.

The traditional women or the women who belongs to the second generation will escape form the torture if her husband or her male agnates initiates a divorce or a woman can apply for divorce to her form the sufferings in which she is inflicted to.

Predominantly, if a man cannot feed or clothe a woman, the male agnates have the right to proceed through the divorce on her behalf. The only hope of traditional women is her grown up sons. Relying in her son will save from the cruel and the abusive treatments of her husband.

The Somali women like Idil and Fathima in Sardines, struggles to protect the traditional Muslim culture from her family who tend to assault with the western and foreign influences which is ironical. Protecting the customary practices from deterioration is the exact definition of a traditional woman.

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Nuruddin Farah’s Women: A Challenge To Somalian Patriarchal System. (2019, July 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 13, 2021, from
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