Written by Naim Haroon Sakhia
The Gist Of The Story
AA young woman is asked to accept punishment for a crime she did not commit. A poor and helpless family dragged through hell in an illegal court of elders so the vigilante justice can be dressed up as fair and proper.
Miscarriage of justice may be rooted in the complete lack of a properly functioning justice system, crude interpretation of biblical commandments, innocent mistakes of any of the functionaries of such a system if it exists, prosecutorial misconduct, or may manifest itself due to outright bias & hate towards a people. Regardless of its reasoning or ‘justification’, the pain it inflicts on the victims justifies that this profound wrong should be righted. And the responsibility is shared collectively by us all.
After all, we all claim our basic human rights.
For human rights to continue to exist, they need to be protected. Humanity formally recognized this right on a universal level by adopting The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. If it was adopted by all and it belongs to all, then the responsibility of protecting such rights also falls on us all.
Fiction Inspired By Reality
While this book, In Women We Trust, is a work of fiction, it was inspired by real-life events which came to light only when a courageous woman took a stand and was supported by the lawyers, journalists, and society in general who stood with her in very testing times.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its preamble states “whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world, whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.”
Unfortunately, the conscience of mankind is very selective in getting outraged.
In human rights treaties, states bear the primary burden of responsibility for protecting and encouraging human rights. This doesn’t mean that members of civil society don’t also have a responsibility to prevent human rights violations. It is a shared responsibility of all to protect the rights of the entire humanity. Violations occur all the time, but they should always be called out.
Working In The Law
As a practicing attorney, I witness the power of a functioning judicial system. Sometimes failures of the system are also witnessed. But the strength of a function judicial system is its ability to correct itself, admit its mistakes, and provide a remedy to those who are wronged.
But what about societies where the justice system is either non-existent or is manipulated in the name of expediency. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world there exist parallel justice systems which promise swift delivery but are easily corruptible and can easily become a tool to exact vengeance rather they deliver justice.
A gang rape sanctioned by a tribal council that occurred in Pakistan in 2002 made headlines all over the world. Unfortunately, it was not a unique event. This novel is inspired, but not based on those events. However, it does address the underlying issues of exploitation of the underdogs of the society, any society.
Blank Paper (Or Screen)
With an issue to address firmly placed in a writer’s mind, details of the underlying problem in front of him, and the desire to highlight an important issue, one would imagine putting words on a blank paper (or a blank screen) would be easy. Well, think again.
Storytelling is an ancient craft. It has also been very popular throughout history. Case on point, all divine books use this craft to draw attention. So, instead of writing a narrative article, I decided to highlight this issue in the form of a story. Once that basic decision was made, the inner search for an interesting story began. That led my imagination to come up with characters. The characters had to have their traits, background, ideas to convey, feelings to share, interact with other characters, find a common purpose, play a part in the development of the story, speak to each other and most importantly keep the reader engaged.
The Mechanics Of Writing
It took several weeks to write an outline, list all characters, explore their uniqueness, define their relationship with each other and come up with ideas to place them in the story in such a way that they appear relevant and keep the story moving.
Then the events of the story starting unfolding themselves to me.
I wanted to present the story in such a way that a reader would feel the presence of the character and see them walking and talking in front of them. The first draft, when presented to the editors elicited the kind of response which confirmed to me that at least on that level I was able to deliver, i.e. make the reader feel that they are not ‘reading’ but ‘watching’ the events on paper, with eyes open. I was told that the focus on dialogues was well placed. They felt that the book had characters who were relatable and were interacting with each other at a level that was very easy to grasp and appreciate.
The manuscript went through multiple rounds of editing. Developmental, substantive, structural, copy, line, mechanical. All of it. The result is a fast-paced, easy-to-read, engrossing, and impactful book that has received very positive editorial reviews. Over 9000 people requested a copy of the book which was featured twice on Goodreads Giveaway.
Naim Haroon Sakhia is a CA Attorney-at-Law with a long history of successfully representing the client’s interests under the law in various legal forums, administrative agencies, and courts. He published multiple Urdu language short stories in the early ’90s in Pakistan’s leading magazines, before moving to the USA. After a long hiatus from writing, he penned his debut English novel ‘In
WoMen We Trust’ inspired by real & unfortunate events that keep occurring in the name of the informal and corrupt parallel justice system, serving the whims and interests of the powerful at the expense of their dominated subjects, in many places across the globe.