I think it's very difficult to choose a hero; there are a lot of people whom I admire (explorers, lifesavers, scientists, peacemakers...). All the same, I chose Fadela Amara, the president of an association named "Ni Putes, Ni Soumises" (meaning "neither slut nor submissive").
|Photo from arcadia.homelinux.org
Fadela Amara was born in 1964 in Clermont-Ferrand. Her parents are immigrants. She spent her childhood in a housing development. For Fadela, it was like a shanty town; everybody, in this district, lived in extreme poverty. Solidarity was very important among families in the housing development. Fadela has ten brothers and sisters. Her father was a factory worker and her mother a housewife. She had a difficult childhood but a good education. At school, Fadela had a passion for French and reading.
In 1978, at the young age of 14, Fadela witnessed the drama which was going to change her life. A road hog ran over her brother, Malik, who was killed instantly. Fadela was upset by the behaviour of the police who defended the road hog. This injustice infuriated her. That's why she decided to fight against injustices, but without violence, like Gandhi and Martin Luther King whom she admired.
Fadela watched the television news to stay informed about what was happening in the world. She was very sensitive to the women's situation in her housing development. Muslim, she couldn't accept that men used Islam to justify the domination of women. Furthermore, at that time, a teenager was banished by her family if she got pregnant. At 18, Fadela founded an association to help women to think for themselves and to be more independent.
In 1980, women's rights weren't really respected. Fadela realized that there were a lot of associations which defended social equality, but they forgot gender equality (except "SOS Racism"). Fadela became an activist with SOS Racism, an association which she liked, because it permitted her both to fight against racism and for women's emancipation.
During the nineties, issues became more and more important - like rape, forced marriages, girls who can't go to school or out and had to stay at home... In October 2002, Sohanne, a girl, was burned to death in the housing development Vitry-sur-Seine. Fadela was revolted. She couldn't bear this horror, so she decided to organize a march all over France with the slogan: "Ni Putes, Ni Soumises" (Neither whores nor submissives). This way, she founded the association for women's rights named "Ni Putes, Ni Soumises," which is very famous today.
I chose Fadela Amara because she is an exceptional woman, a fighter who has willpower and who has helped many women to become free.