In Search of the Real “Bad Guy”

In light of the death of Osama Bin Laden, I was reminded of another recent “bad guy” who the US also killed: Saddam Hussein.  I was thinking about him because it was through the direct contact with his psychotic world of hatred and destruction that one woman was moved to rise up and take a stand for peace and justice.  If you want to be inspired, you should read her book: Between Two Worlds.  I think this book is especially poignant now because we know that even though we’ve caught another “bad guy,” we still have a long way to go as far as addressing root issues of injustice and oppression, particularly amongst women.

Zainab Salbi spent her entire childhood tied to one of the world’s most notorious despots: Saddam Hussein. Salbi’s father worked as Hussein’s pilot, and Salbi spent most of her youth in a home on Hussein’s compound. Between Two Worlds is Salbi’s account of growing up with her life in the hands of this charismatic sociopath.  It is impossible to put this book down; it is truly a testament to the human soul’s ability to endure oppressive circumstances.

After leaving Iraq and coming to the US, Salbi found that all of her grief related to Hussein’s atrocities was being provoked by the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  “Hundreds of thousands of Bosnian and Croatian civilians were being killed in a genocide that was practically being committed on television.  Twenty thousand women had already been raped, what excuse did we have this time for lack of action?”

So she did act.  With almost no material means and few connections, she and her new husband took the savings for their yet-to-be honeymoon and flew to Zagreb, Croatia.  They began interviewing women survivors of rape camps and listening to their stories of tragedy and loss.  Salbi had the idea for an organization where one woman at a time could sponsor a rape victim, send her money each month that would be used towards job training programs, and send her letters of support so she would know she wasn’t alone.

This idea has now grown into a major international organization, womenforwomen.org which helps women who are most in need in areas of war and conflict.  Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah’s explained why an organization like Salbi’s is so important:  “When you invest in women survivors of war, you spark a multiplier effect. Empowered women are crucial to reconstruction and lasting peace. They’re not asking for charity: they just need a chance to show what they can do.”  Zainab Salbi took her emotional response to the horrors of war and transformed it into a life giving organization.

Hopefully society will continue to see and confront that the real “bad guys” we are up against, including the systematic oppression of women worldwide.

As long as women are prevented from attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to achieve the greatness which might be theirs.”

“The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is essential to human progress and the transformation of society.”

(quotes from the Baha’i Writings)

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1 Response to “In Search of the Real “Bad Guy””


  1. 1 Lacey May 6, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I cannot thank you enough for posting about this. I just ordered mother’s day cards through womenforwomen.org. Seriously, that is such an amazing nonprofit…thank you thank you, Misha!!


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