Half the Sky

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Mahabouba Muhammad Character Analysis

Mahabouba Muhammad is an Ethiopian woman who was sold by a neighbor to another man, to be his second wife. At fourteen, her pregnancy by rape led to a fistula. Utterly abandoned otherwise, her life was saved by staff at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, where she now works as a nurse’s aide.

Mahabouba Muhammad Quotes in Half the Sky

The Half the Sky quotes below are all either spoken by Mahabouba Muhammad or refer to Mahabouba Muhammad . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Oppression of Women  Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Half the Sky published in 2010.
Chapter 6 Quotes

“No one reading this book, we hope, can fathom the sadistic cruelty of those soldiers who used a pointed stick to tear apart Dina's insides. But there is also a milder, more diffuse cruelty of indifference, and it is global indifference that leaves some 3 million women and girls incontinent just like Dina.”

Related Characters: Nicholas D. Kristof (speaker), Sheryl WuDunn (speaker), Dina, Mahabouba Muhammad
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

Prior to this chapter opening, Kristof and WuDunn told the story of Dina, a Congolese woman raped by a group of militiamen, who also pierced her organs with a stick. Dina’s fistula developed from rape, but most fistulas, like Mahabouba Muhammad’s, are due to a paucity of maternal health resources. The authors show that Dina’s story has clearer perpetrators, and therefore more vivid cruelty. But the “cruelty of indifference” is a cruelty of which most of the world is guilty. This term refers to the neglect of women like Mahabouba, whose fistulas are preventable with adequate maternal care, but who simply aren’t a political priority. The authors condemn this indifference as an international failure.


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Mahabouba Muhammad Character Timeline in Half the Sky

The timeline below shows where the character Mahabouba Muhammad appears in Half the Sky. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
The Oppression of Women  Theme Icon
The Complexity of Aid Theme Icon
Solutions to Address the Oppression of Women Theme Icon
The authors write that, “for every Dina, there are hundreds like Mahabouba Muhammad ,” an Ethiopian woman who was sold as a girl to be a man’s second... (full context)
The Oppression of Women  Theme Icon
The Complexity of Aid Theme Icon
Solutions to Address the Oppression of Women Theme Icon
...and her husband opened the hospital in 1975 and have administered over twenty-five thousand surgeries. Mahabouba’s fistula couldn’t be fully repaired, but she was given a colostomy, an outer pouch which... (full context)