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Aceh Woman Honored for Compassion And Bravery


Hanisah

Banda Aceh, TAG. Islamic boarding schools, called dayah in Aceh, are not just for the pious. According to Hanisah, a 42-year-old Acehnese teacher, dayah are meant to shelter the downtrodden. And she has no qualms about proving shelter to anybody, even if it means risking her own life — as she did two years ago.

Although it had previously mainly taken in orphans, Diniyah Darussalam Dayah, a boarding school that Hanisah founded in Pandang Mancang, a village in West Aceh district, two years ago took in a new pupil — a 17-year-old girl who was a victim of rape.
“She was seven months pregnant. The girl had nowhere else to go,” Hanisah explained, adding that neither she nor the orphans living at the school, nor its teachers, were prepared for what the local villagers had in store for them. One evening, she said, the school was surrounded by a mob that started shouting for the girl.
“Get her out of here! This boarding school is sheltering adulterers!” cried several of the hundreds of villagers that surrounded the dayah. “The people in this school have polluted the sanctity of our village. Get all of these violators out of our village!”
The rage and insults continued late into the night, as those inside the school, including the now frightened orphans, began to pray for their lives.
Hanisah said she remembered stepping out of the school to confront the mob.
“Our teachers, all female, came out and stood by me. The orphans came out as well and surrounded me. We knew what was coming,” Hanisah said. “I was kicked out of my own dayah, which I founded 10 years ago. Why? Because I dared to take in a victim of rape.
“I remember walking in a line under heavy police protection, with the children trailing behind me. The village chiefs, who should have protected us, were instead themselves stirred by the chaos, and called for us to be shunned.
“All of us, including that 17-year-old girl, were nearly mobbed. Somehow we ended up at a small store owned by a neighbor.”
Hanisah and the 25 orphans under her care, as well as the rape victim, ended up living at the neighbor’s store in Meunasah Buloh village, just 500 meters from the school.
The store is now slowly being developed into yet another Islamic boarding school, which will go by the same name — Diniyah Darussalam.
The new school has several wooden platforms built for prayer and for sleeping, with a separate room for administrative duties and computer lessons. The second floor of the store is still under construction.
“The residents of Buloh village helped us build this school and shelter so that the children can have a decent place to sleep,” Hanisah said, adding that now, aside from providing shelter to victims of rape, she also provided shelter to battered women and sexual assault victims from all around West Aceh.
Hanisah’s valiant efforts were recognized this year when she was awarded the 2010 Acehnese Women’s Award, presented by the Acehnese Women’s Movement, a coalition of national and international women’s organizations.
The award, presented on Thursday during a ceremony in Banda Aceh, was decided by a panel of women’s rights activists, who had struggled to choose a winner from the 39 nominees who had made it past the first cut.
After whittling down the nominees to the final four, the panel began a thorough verification process before selecting Hanisah as this year’s winner.
The three other finalists were 50-year-old Ainah Mardhiah, the first female district head in Aceh, who currently leads the Sabang administration’s public services and protocol division; Nurbaeti, a 37-year-old housewife who has fought for women’s rights in Bener Meriah district by taking battered women into her home; and 36-year-old Yusdarita, a housewife who set up a women’s cooperative in Bener Meriah.[]
Aceh Woman Honored for Compassion And Bravery Aceh Woman Honored for Compassion And Bravery Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on November 27, 2010 Rating: 5

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