Sexual harassment is in the news almost every day. Countless women have been intimidated into silence or their careers and lives have been ruined because they refused to submit to unwanted sexual advances. Yet, sexual harassment coupled with corruption is not singularly an American affliction. It’s an ancient disease, a truly universal tale. Dr. Raana Mahmood's story, Courage to Stay No, is a narrative of standing up against sexual corruption in her home country of Pakistan. It epitomizes the courage, audacity, and determination required to resist becoming a victim in a culture that places little value on divorced women. One that openly allows men to have a second, a third, and a fourth wife, all at a man’s pleasure. After escaping from her husband's physical, verbal, and emotional abuse with her young son in tow, Dr. Mahmood filed for divorce and took up residency as gynecologist at a nearby hospital. After facing years of harassment from her colleagues for being a working woman, and suffering a nervous breakdown because of the vitriol, Dr. Mahmood eventually received a grant of asylum from the United States, where she became an advocate for other women looking to escape domestic violence and an inspiration to those suffering in silence. In the vein of Reading Lolita in Tehran and Infidel, Courage to Say No is a remarkable and empowering story for our times.
Dr. Raana Mahmood , a citizen of Pakistan, graduated from Peoples’ Medical College in Nawab Shah, Sind, Pakistan with a specialization is gynecology. After years of suffering domestic abuse and sexual assault at the hands of her husband, she eventually fled her home with her young son. Over the next two decades, Dr. Mahmood worked tirelessly helping many impoverished and neglected people obtain quality medical care. She wrote articles for the English and Urdu newspapers and magazines on elderly and women’s issues. In 2002, she received a fellowship from Federation of World Love and Peace at the U.N. In 2004, she was the recipient of a fellowship from ASHOKA International in the US. She is currently working with several organizations in New York, including the UN, ICNA, Humanist Organization, Scholars at Risk, HIAS, JASA, Upwardly Global, Dress for Success, Health Right International, Ashoka International, FOWPOL, Libertas Center, The Friedlander Group, and Make The Road. She lives alone in New York and continues to advocate for women’s rights to be free from sexual harassment at every opportunity.