The Stoning of Soraya M.

June 9, 2009

I think we forget, sometimes, the privilege that it is to live in a country as tolerant and secular as America. I’m not saying we don’t have our problems; every government, including ours, has its problems. As a young woman though, I feel privileged to live in this place at this time in history.

Wednesday night, I attended an advance screening of The Stoning of Soraya M. at the Georgetown movie theater. I can think of no better description for it than brutally haunting. And I say that in praise of the film – not in judgment.

The plot chronicles the revelation of a horrific story from a rural village in Iran in 1986. When a French-Iranian journalist is stranded in a village because of car troubles, an older woman tells him of an act the men in her village are hiding from the outside world. Her niece, Soraya, was falsely accused and convicted of infidelity and stoned to death by her village so that her husband could marry another woman and not be required by law to pay her support. Her neighbors and family partake in this plot; participate in the murder, and band together to cover it up.

It may be hard to see past the vicious murder of an innocent woman that is depicted on screen. I walked away from the film as distressed as anyone but inspired by the spirit of Zahra, Soraya’s aunt. In a country and culture that still, more than 20 years after the events took place, suppresses women in shockingly inhumane ways, she understood the power of a single human voice. She promised her niece, “I will tell your daughters the truth about you; I will tell the whole world.” And despite all odds, she managed to do so, telling the young reporter, “I want you to take my voice with you,” before she began her story.

The message that the voice of a woman will insight change and influence communities is one we understand here at Running Start. It is at the heart of our mission to encourage young women to run early for public office. Great change can be put in motion by speaking up every chance you get. How can anyone know that you want change, that you want to make a difference, if you sit in the corner and don’t speak up for yourself?

Have a voice ladies – and use it!

-Rachael Berkey

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