Diasporic Article Critique
We define Diaspora as a movement of any population with common ethnic identity from their settled territory to areas farther away. This is common to populations from countries which are experiencing poverty, economic unrest, and military problems, making it not very suitable for living. This is the situation discussed in the article by Mary Rogan, entitled Girl, Interrupted. She talks about the life and death of Aqsa Parvez, a Pakistani immigrant in Toronto, Canada.
The article focused on the life of 16 year old Aqsa, who tried to blend in with the western culture of her new home (Rogan, 2008). The article initially recounts that events that happened the day Aqsa Parvez was murdered by her own father and brother because she allegedly disrespected their culture and religion. The article was nothing more than an account of the things that happened before and after the death. It tried to fit in the pieces that led to the death of the teenager, coupled with the statements given by two of her closest friends.
If you look at the situation in a spectator’s perspective, you would see that it was nothing more but a case of domestic violence, with the father overly beating the child for not following his orders. However, if the case is viewed in a cultural or religious perspective, it would reveal a different story. Diaspora in the context of Aqsa Parvez’ situation would mean moving from her place of origin towards Ontario, while brining with her all her cultural and religious beliefs (Berns-McGown, 2008).
She was a from a Muslim family, and devout one at that, which is why every aspect of their culture should be followed, and deviating from it would mean disrespect, and should be dealt with accordingly. Aqsa Pavrez is born and raised in the Islam culture, so she has to adopt in her life every teaching that the culture presented to her. The article Girl, Interrupted focused on one symbolism all throughout the article, and that is the wearing of a Hajib. Muslim women were regarded as the treasures of the religion, which is why they have to be covered all over, as much as possible, not revealing an inch of their naked skin.
For those living in Muslim countries, women were clad in robes and cover their face, revealing only their eyes. But for the case of Aqsa Pavrez, she was only required by her parents to wear a Hajib, a cloth that would cover her head and hair. This situation is a manifestation of cultural diaspora, wherein Aqsa Pavrez and her family carries with them the religious and cultural beliefs and practice of their homeland. However, since Ontario is different from where they came from, they have to somehow adapt and adjust these practices to match the place.
Aqsa Pavrez and other women from the same culture and religion were not anymore required to be clad in long robes just to cover every inch of their skin. They were instead required to wear lose shirts and large jeans, and to wear a Hajib to cover their head. For those who have strongly adhered to their cultural and religious practices, complying with these guidelines was easy. They are somehow able to fit in with the new environment, but are able to maintain and preserve with them the teachings of their culture and religion.
But Aqsa Pavrez was different. According to the article, she did not despise wearing their traditional clothing, but instead, she wanted to wear it according to her choice. She wanted to have freedom in choosing what to wear, freedom of expressing herself, especially since she’s a teenager, with friends who are very much different from her. She somehow wanted to blend in, and the practices that she was accustomed to were hindering her from doing so. In a Diasporic perspective, we can say that indeed, there are people just like Aqsa Pavrez.
They don’t hate the culture and religion they grew up with, but they also wanted to enjoy what other people are enjoying. The cultural practices that she was expected to follow were hindering her from doing the things she wanted, which is why most of the times, she broke the rule set by her father and older brother. In the context of Diaspora, the people who settle in foreign lands such as this were expected to alter the beliefs and practices that they have brought with them. They are in a different land, and not all of the cases that they grew up on would apply.
If we are to judge the actions of Aqsa Pavrez, she was merely adapting to the new environment, and was trying to mix the culture that she grew up on, with that of the foreign land they have settled in (Sen, 2006). This action is very much expected, though there are some constraints that she has encountered. First of all, she was still in her youth, and she couldn’t possibly stand on her own feet considering her age. It was too early to become independent, so no matter what her desires are, it is impossible to put it into fruition.
Her family, especially her father and brother, hindered her from doing so, primarily because they wanted her to retain the practices and beliefs that they grew up on. The sad thing though, for the case of Aqsa Pavrez is that she was not given the chance to grow up. She died before even reaching the point where she can decide on what she wants. The title could be wrong because girls like Aqsa would still need intervention. What could be more appropriate is that, it is a Life, Interrupted.