It is not easy to be a rape survivor. Humans who have survived this atrocity, face the world with doubts in their mind every day but also face the world with immense strength and courage and are one of the strongest people I have ever come across.
When I met the protagonist, I didn’t know her story but I saw authority in her ways. Being a female journalist in Lahore, she knew what she was doing. She had command over her ideas and spoke with brilliant grace but there was something about her eyes that kept troubling me.
Ayesha, in her early 30’s finally spilled the beans about her life, giving me the responsibility to inform others about what she went through. And to be honest, her story shocked me to the core!
It all started when she was just six years old when her driver started to touch her (he used to pick and drop her from her school in Jeddah). Being young she didn’t think of it much. Gradually, he started to made her sit on his lap and touch and rub his private parts. She said, “There were days when he would put my hand on it and rub it till he came. This lasted for about 1 year.”
As she grew up with this secret, things did not seem to tone down. “He started discussing my family secrets, sex, periods, boyfriends etc with me. Not knowing what that meant, I kept listening to him.”
Until one day he asked for a favor, “I did not know what it would be. He took me to his house and turned on a porn movie. That was the first time I came face to face with such a thing. He told me to follow what was happening in the movie and from then onwards there was no stopping.”
This carried on for two years. Her driver molested her almost everywhere as he used to travel with them also, “He touched me in the Haram (The Holy Mosque of Makah where the Kabah is situated) too and even in Madina when my parents were not in the hotel room.”
He also passed her on to a friend of his too. His friend got a chance only once, but it happened inside her own house. “I never had trouble when I was living abroad but when I came to Pakistan, my nightmare started all over again. Another uncle started the same thing. The only difference was that it was all oral and with hands”
Living through continuous molestation through her childhood, you can’t help but think how can someone endure so much and keep quiet? Because earlier she did not understand what was been done to her.
“Later I started to feel dirty in my own skin and under a lot of pressure,” clarified Ayesha.
Ayesha, stayed quiet. She didn’t tell anyone. “I only remember the uncle telling me if I told anyone he would burn me with his cigarette and would ‘try’ my sister too. I was not ready for that, I just protected her in all the ways I could.”
Those she did confide into later in her life treated her like a ‘khula wa mal’ (used piece) even if they were friendly with her.
In 2001, she finally told her family as she becoming suicidal, I used to cut my hands and feet with glass bangles. When I opened up, I was told, “jo hogaya wo hogaya” move on. No one from the family has any idea what I went through. The driver, who was in Jeddah died in 2001. But my family still meets with his family which makes me really hate everyone, their reason for it is “unka kia kasoor hai? Jisne kia wo margaya”
The effect of constant abuse on a human being cannot be measured; for Ayesha, now she can’t stand a touch, “I once went to a perfume shop in Lahore, I asked him to show me an “itar” and when he applied it on my wrist, I felt as if he is ‘enjoying’ it. My mother was right beside me, but I could not pull my hand away. I had lost my voice, my legs felt weak and I was burning from within. When I go to shops I don’t even let the salesmen make me wear shoes because I am scared they will touch me. I can’t really watch programs with such topics and if I do I end up feeling insulted by all the males (which I know is irrational),”
According to her, her behavior has changed drastically since she told people about her past, “I am bitter and angry all the time. Until I had not told anyone, I was still better but since I have told people, I feel even more frustrated. At times, I don’t think it’s my fault but when things are going against me I always end blaming myself for being quite for such a long period.”
She also told me why hasn’t she settles down yet. She explained, “If only it did not happen I would have been settled (married) by now and studied further. Because of these incidents, I was always of the opinion that I am not a virgin and I will never be accepted as a wife. This had adversely affected my education too,”
Ayesha believes that kids are their parent’s responsibility and if parents have a baby in the first year of their marriage they are not fit for the job yet, “That child is just out of first nights lust. You need to learn what the world is about and then give birth to a child. NO ONE in the world will protect your child. It can only be done by the parents and they have to teach the kids to say NO if they feel something unpleasant. Parents should start opening up these topics in front of their kids if they want to save the future generation.”
*Name has been changed to protect identity