Being victimized, when does it end?

Why did the sexual harassment of 20 women during the Pohela Boishakh incident rattle so many people? Why are the people out in hordes, lining the street, demanding that the perpetrators be brought to justice? Why did this resonate with so many people on so many different levels?

Gender based violence, sexual harassment is a worldwide epidemic problem. It’s a human right problem. The fact that it has struck a chord with so many is a testament to how pervasive & endemic it is. Almost every single women that I know has stories. Yes, stories, not ‘a story’ but many stories of being objectified, vilified and violated… in public space and private. Where does this end? Does it ever end?

And why are we still stuck on telling women what they can wear, not wear, be, not be, do and not do? Why the hell is it still our responsibility to ‘not get raped’?

People tell me that I am brave.

I am not, it’s because I know what it is to live in fear, I can no longer accept being ‘fearful’ as my default mode of living.

I have had my house broken into and robbed a few years ago. I remember not being able to sleep for several nights. I no longer felt safe inside my own home.

I remember being molested at maybe 5 or 6 years old. I no longer felt safe in my own body. I remember the fear & disgust of all those groping hands of fathers, uncles, cousins and strangers.

It’s not a new story, it has happened before and it’ll continue to happen, all over the world, unless something changes.

And that something that changed for me, was me.

At some point in time, I was done with taking it – quietly. I was done with keeping silent, to keep the peace. I was done with not creating a scene for fear that it will draw attention to me or rock the family or social ties. I was done with suffering alone, so that other’s are not inconvenienced. Yes, it would’ve been inconvenient and awkward you see to explain to others why the situation has changed, why something that was seemingly normal is no longer so. I learnt to raise my voice instead, to swear to high heaven – worthy of putting a drunken sailor to shame. I learnt self-defence, to fight back and I learnt how to break bones when needed.

You see I am done with being victimized. If you mess with me, I will fight back. I will use my voice, my hands, the law, or whatever else I can get my hands on. I have had it with sermons of religion and coverings/clothing/hijab and good girl vs. bad girl arguments. Arguments that make no distinction for the 10-year-old girl who had her clothes torn off and was covered in bite marks by a bunch of rapists hiding in the faceless crowd.

Remember this fact: Worldwide 1 in 3 women face sexual violence and a very conservative estimate puts it at 1 in 6 for boys/men. It’s not ‘your’ fault. It’s not ‘their’ fault irrespective of their clothing or the lateness of the hour or anything else. No one is ‘asking’ for this. The worst part is that this victimization starts young, 7-8 or younger. Abusers target young kids because they don’t know how to react. Women are conditioned to ignore it and tacitly accept this violation by society/parents/others telling them that this shit is normal & it happens & it’s their body’s fault. Men are asked, ‘why didn’t you fight back?’, ‘can men actually be raped?’.

I am extremely over-protective about the people in my life, be that my son, the 10-year-old daughter of my neighbour, my 22-year-old cousin or my 40-year-old friends. The best way to show that you care and that you don’t support violence, is to call out the perpetrator on their behaviour and stand up for the person being victimized (men or women) wherever they be, at home or in public. Teach your daughters / sons / sisters / brothers self-defence, to keep their chin up and keep those line of communication open. Pay attention to how a child behaves around an adult, if they are not comfortable, don’t force them to be nice. This isn’t a contest on how well you have ingrained manners in your children or daughters, it’s about how well you ingrain self-respect.

If you think it only happens to certain people (men or women) because of something they did or because of the country they live in …  then read these:

In creepy Reddit megathread, thousands of women recount the first time they were perved on by a grown man: http://np.reddit.com/…/women_of_reddit_when_did_you_first_…/

1in6 was founded and the website was designed in response to a lack of resources addressing the impact of negative childhood sexual experiences on the lives of adult men, one of many under-recognized aspects of childhood sexual abuse: https://1in6.org/men/

And to the lovely people out there, who genuinely care and are horrified that people have to go through these, stand up and be heard. When we avert our eyes in the streets, in the bus, on the road, in schools, at parties, office, or at home we are allowing space for the criminals to continue their crimes.

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Posted on April 22, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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