One day enraged with suffocation and suffering
Betwixt my tradition and ambitions
I looked for the evil that was creating darkness.
I desperately looked out of the window, screamed and squealed
Challenged the devil to come and face me.
When no one turned up, I sat down, lost and disappointed
Looking for enemy, dwindling between fear and anger
My moistened eyes looked for a solution.
Suddenly a violent wind threw open the closed doors of my room.
Fresh air startled me with joy, I had found my devil.
It was nowhere but in my shame
And heavens had lent a hand forward.
All I needed to do was to step out!
But heavens rarely lend a hand to pull you out of your misery. The mythification and glorification of pain and suffering would take us into a vicious cycle which has ceased to end since ages. There is no virtue in suffering silently. But there is a simple step to the way out of this victimization. And that is to Speak Up!
Speak up when you wake up in the morning and men of the house expect you to take charge of the kitchen.
Speak up when your mother expects you to clean the house before you read the newspaper. Don’t clean the shit of your brother who always tells you what to do and where to go. And do not, for your own sake, don’t get traded through dowry and belong to a man who did not have guts to stand up and oppose it.
Ask your boyfriend ,when he asks you to get married, would he help you to cook and clean, would he change his attitude when his mother is around, would he behave and expect differently when his great grand relatives want to see how ‘dutiful’ of a daughter-in-law you are. Ask the man whom you marry, would he respect your work, would he give you equal respect if you are a homemaker and do not directly earn bucks.
For men have fought for us, since the time of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, for men have also made us suffer from ages. Few women have fought and lost, many have won. It’s time to rebel, keep the so called ‘practical’ things aside. Ask some tough questions from yourself and the people in your life. We mostly need to establish our rights inside our homes, on the dining tables, in the kitchen. People who usually violate our basic human rights are our parents, siblings, in-laws and people who are close to us. Statistics reveal that in most of the rape cases the offender is usually a person already known to the victim.
Don’t fall a victim of emotional dominance of a man’s state of mind. It is not always important how he interprets the situation. When you interpret a situation, when you are hurt by an act, when you think someone said something wrong to you. They definitely did. When you think that a man touched you in the wrong way in a bus, that your office colleague stared at your cleavage oddly or the man who befriends your husband often tries to touch you, they definitely are doing so. Trust your instincts, feelings and thoughts about people. Don’t hesitate if he is an uncle, elder or your in-law’s priced relative. Speak out aloud, shame the molesters. Embarrass the offenders.
Trust your daughters when they come to you and tell you something shocking about the friend you trust. Help her overcome the feeling of shame. Take advantage of the close family ties in the Indian family system to shame the offenders. If you really believe in family’s importance then help other daughters of the family. Speak up inside the four walls, for they often capture darkness and suffocation. These walls often mislead you by calling themselves as home, they often become prisons; Prisons of so called tradition and exploitation.
Anusha Soni, 23, is studying law at University of London. Earlier she has done masters in International Relations (Contemporary Asian Studies) at University of Amsterdam and also studied journalism at Delhi University.