“Perempuan” means “woman” in the Malay language.

Growing up as a woman, we all know too well the challenges it brings. But growing up as a Muslim woman is a lot harder – being constantly bounded by societal norms and defined by generational guidelines. This book is an eye-opening collection of short stories and poems written by women who have grown up with gender violence, misjudgement, polygamy and marital rape. They remain unheard in a fast-moving and unforgiving society that treats them as a minority who does not deserve a voice, until now.

As a woman who is part of the significantly majority (race), the issues raised in the books are often uncomfortable topics to bring up amongst friends (and particularly families). But no matter how difficult, we must confront reality with an ongoing healthy debate, in order for us to make well-informed and guided decisions to create better inclusivity. At the very core of it, we are all stuck in the same endless cycle of having to live up to the expectations of others, and this has to stop. This book allow us to open the conversation, connect and communicate better, to learn and to identify the problem, and finally to believe in people who at the end of the day, are just trying to make better decisions for themselves. Aren’t we all?

Overall, it is a highly-recommended literature for anybody young or old, Muslims or Non-Muslims, who struggles with identifying what their life means, how they should value happiness within oneself and not just for others. The topics could be heart-breaking and hard to digest, but it is precisely this very reason, that makes this a worthwhile read.

Growing Up Perempuan is the follow-up to AWARE‘s (Association of Women for Action and Research) first publication, Perempuan: Muslim Women in Singapore Speak Out.

Image Credit: Ethos Books

This book can be purchased online at Ethos Books or Kinokuniya. It is out of stock at the moment, but major bookstores should have it too.


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