September 2012 Ethical Hero – Samira Ibrahim

Published: September 12, 2012

By Jim Lichtman
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In my book, What Do You Stand For?, Holocaust survivor Judy Meisel writes, “We cannot afford to say, ‘What can I do? – I’m only one person?’  One person can do a lot!”

I was reminded of that again after reading actress Charlize Theron’s observations regarding Samira Ibrahim who was chosen as one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2012.

“Too often women suffer in silence;” Theron writes, “their struggles stay hidden behind forced smiles and stoic faces. This is not something Samira Ibrahim is willing to allow. After Egyptian soldiers detained her and subjected her and other female protesters to forced “virginity tests,” the 25-year-old marketing manager refused to stay silent. She sued the military, and in December a civilian judge ruled the humiliating practice illegal. Her fight is not over, though: In March, a military tribunal acquitted the doctor who allegedly performed the “virginity tests.” Samira has sworn to pursue the case using international law.

“When I first heard Samira’s story, it moved me. Not simply because of the abhorrent injustice she experienced but also because of her bravery to speak the truth and to face those who would tell her to stay quiet. It takes a strong person to stand up for what is right in the face of ostracism and public scrutiny. Samira represents the model of how to stand up to fear, and the impact she has made reaches far beyond Egypt. It takes just one woman to speak out, and thousands of others around the world will listen and feel inspired to act.”

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