cover image Harem Years: The Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist, 1879-1924

Harem Years: The Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist, 1879-1924

Huda Shaarawi, Huda Sha'rawi. Feminist Press, $15.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-935312-70-6

Shaarawi, an early leader of Egypt's feminist movement, was the daughter of an upper-class Egyptian and a Turkish Circassian woman. Raised in a haremthat area of homes where the women and children in wealthier families were secludedShaarawi observed bitterly that her younger brother was treated better and taught more than she. At age 13 she was married, against her wishes, to an older cousin who already had a family by a ""slave-concubine,'' with whom he continued to live at intervals during his marriage. In addition to noting such injustices, Shaarawi also offers a touching account of growing up in the Middle East at the turn of the century and of the peopleparticularly European women living in Egypt and Egyptian women educated in Europewho helped her to develop a vision of a more just society. Badran's epilogue, quoting extensively from Shaarawi's narrative, covers the stirring struggle for independence from Britain and the beginnings of a women's movement in Egypt following World War I. (May)