by Tirzah Shams – Age 15 years
TW // MENTIONS OF VIOLENCE AGASNT WOMEN IN DIFFERENT WAYS SUCH AS HARRASMENT, KILLINGS, ETC.
An ode to those all those women
For whom, every day is a battle
When it comes to strength and dignity
You are a prime example
Don’t let the words of these people
Tear your beautiful sprit apart
Keep fighting, my love, it will get better
Time will heal your bleeding heart
Noor. Qurat-ul-Ain. Andaleeb. Saima. Wishah. Silsila. Just a few of the many names that represent how society treats women. Countless others made their appearances on my Instagram feed in the past few days and even more are there that I am yet to see. Names of women. They appeared with the phrase “justice for”, one that I’m more accustomed to seeing now than I’d like to admit. So many names, so many hashtags. In this month alone, at least one new hashtag was found every day. Sometimes twice appearing on the same.
So what are they about? These tags are prominently appearing in cases of violent acts being committed against women. The sheer amount of names, the lists that now appear on a simple search of the words “justice for”, are heartbreaking. If I were in a less harsh world, I’d hope that these hashtags would capture the full extent of violence against women. That it would end with the number of tags appearing, which in itself is a lot. But the reality of the situation is that, this spike in trending hashtags (relating to violence against women) captures just the tip of the iceberg. These only show a small proportion of reported cases (only those that have gone viral). It’s hard to even imagine the true magnitude of the number of such acts. To take into consideration the many more reported injustices and the crimes left unreported.
My heart bleeds for these victims. Them and all those unknown names that have faced terrible agony and still are. My sisters who have suffered at the hands of oppressors. Our patriarchal society arms these monsters, there is no denying. It’s in looking no further than what happened to Noor Mukadam. This young woman was killed brutally by her childhood friend. Yet, rather than punishing her murderer, fingers were raised on her character. ‘Why did she agree to meet with him alone?’ And when the same accusing tone was used against Zahir Jaffar, his actions were excused by our society under claims of mental illness. The mentality of our people and society as a whole would rather excuse a man who beheaded someone than a girl who was killed for she already knew her killer.
In the last few days, I’ve experienced a sort of mental exhaustion that I’m sure many of my fellow age mates and fellow women would relate to. We are scared. We are tired of existing in a world where our existence has been made a privilege to us. Where reading news concerning rape, harassment, killings and much more, have become a sort of a daily routine. Most of us already grow up feeling untrusting towards the men around us. And these events that have occurred at a horrifyingly continuous rate have definitely made it worse. We are angry, bottling up so many emotions.
As a teenage girl, I should not be writing about a femicide. I, my friends and all my fellow females are far too young to be carrying such heavy burdens. I guess it isn’t unlike our society though. We were already made to mature quicker when told at young ages about the dirty looks men have, even for our young bodies. We were made to grow up faster as we found ourselves deleting message requests from overage men while we are still minors. We are forced to grow up in many ways that our male counterparts didn’t and were told that it’s just “the norm”. And it’s disturbing how, even when aware of these situations, the reaction of the men around us has been simply unhelpful.
As I was writing this essay, I found myself on Twitter. Ready to find more information about the many tags I had seen. Instead, what trended were these words:
These words are those most commonly used when women speak out about how they have been treated by men. A hoax of innocence that men tend to mix with their “nice guy” personas. And I get it. Not all men are bad men. I understand as much. I know that my father isn’t a bad man. I know he loves me infinitely and is respectful to all the women around him. Similarly, my brother isn’t a bad man. I see him get frustrated as he reads posts about all which has happened over the past month. I see him worry for my safety. I see him try to understand what women go through and I see him trying to unlearn any internalised misogyny. So yes, I know that not all men are bad.
But understanding is needed over this simple fact; enough men are bad that women have to assume all of them are. Being vary of all men is a simple safety measure that we have to adopt. Similar to how not all mosquitoes carry malaria but its unpredictable which ones do, so we protect ourselves against all of them. I know that my father and brother aren’t bad men but a random girl on a sidewalk would not know so. It’s in her best interest to avoid them, just in case they are. And this doesn’t just apply to strangers. Women in our society are killed for rejecting proposals, asking for their right in inheritance, acting in any way that their male family members deem inappropriate, etc. Sources of harassment end up being family members and friends too. Thus women are left existing at the mercy of men. We become one misstep away from disaster. And in all of this, being vary of men or speaking low of most of them only leads to men claiming innocence rather than trying to support and help their female associates. Instead of helping educate their “bros” and calling their associates out on inappropriate behaviours, instead men succumb to talking about how feminists just hate all men.
It’s a hard time to be a woman in our world. Take these events, these difficult situations, as eye openers. Crimes against women are escalating and as more and more examples come to light, I appeal to anyone reading this to raise their voices. Please, raise your voices against the injustices that occur. Raise your voices so that the people in power can no longer play dumb. Raise them till each and every woman gets the justice they deserve. Raise your voices until the world that you live in is safe for you, your sister, mother and all acquaintances, alike. And in times when you feel your voice falter, ask yourself:
“Akhir Kitney Aur Hashtag Hon Gay?”