Graphic journalism and photos tell Yemeni women's struggle

Bologna publisher Coconino releases 'Il Mondo di Aisha'

28 January, 15:33

    'The world of Aisha' book 'The world of Aisha' book

    (ANSAmed) - BOLOGNA - A reportage released by Coconino Press mixes graphics and photos to narrate the story of the silent revolution of Yemeni women for their emancipation. 'Il Mondo di Aisha' ('The World of Aisha'), a 144-page work of graphic journalism published by the Bologna-based publishing house of the Fandango group, focuses on the stories of three women. The author, Ugo Bertotti, made the drawings in black and white, inspired by a story by photographer and documentary-maker Agnes Montanari, who collected the stories of Aisha, Sabiha, and Hamedda. Aisha lives in the capital, Sanaa, has a degree in computer science and works for a software company. She does not want to marry her cousin, which is what has family has asked her to do. She has a jealous boyfriend, and wears a niqab - but mainly because it ensures her freedom of movement and prevents her being looked at incessantly by men. Sabiha is a child bride, having been married to a 23-year-old when she was only 11. Though Yemeni law prohibits marriage under age 15, in the rural area where she lives tribal laws and the Sharia hold sway. Sabiha wears a full Islamic veil, but at dawn she likes to go to the window without it to feel the fresh air on her face: something her violent husband does not approve of. Hamedda, 65, was also a child bride in her time, but she managed to make the best of the situation and is now the wealthy owner of a restaurant chain. She became a widow very early on and had to find a way to get by, and hit on the idea of opening a small restaurant for soldiers. She has never worn a niqab, despite rumors going round about her as a result and gossiping behind her back. The author of the graphic novel and the photojournalist tell the stories of the three protagonists and the women around them.

    ''The Islamic veil makes a big impression on you Westerners,'' Aisha says. ''But you don't understand that for us it isn't that important. What is really important for us is to be able to work outside the home, teach, treat patients, engage in politics. If you wear a niqab this is more easily accepted, since men feel less destabilized.'' Set up in 2000 as part of a project by Igort and Carlo Barbieri, Coconino Press has brought to Italy graphic novels and comics by authors of such international renown as Gipi, José Munoz, Jiro Taniguchi, Daniel Clowes and Davide Toffolo.


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