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This article is originally written by Shamigh Qasim
Those who know me, know that I am not one for making too many friends. I have a small circle of people I like to interact with. Following are short, one line stories of some people I know;
- My uncle sexually harassed me when I was a kid. I told my parents about it but they just asked me to move on.
- My husband married another woman behind my back, and now he has a child with that woman.
- My husband says he would divorce me if my parents stop paying for his drugs.
- When I was an eight-year-old boy, the imam at my neighbourhood’s mosque sexually harassed me.
There was that time of ignorance, where I used to believe that there is nothing wrong with this world, that the stories of harassment and other forms of violence are scarce, and that the perpetrators are then punished accordingly. Clearly, I was very very wrong.
The first few times when I heard a friend talk to me; about some form of the evil they faced, my first response was, “Why did you not tell other people about it? Why did you not complain? Why did you not fight back?”
I quickly learned that my response was in some ways more harmful than the violence they faced. We need to change how we listen, and then respond to these stories of evil people face. The sad reality is that, instead of giving our shoulders and hand to the victims; to pull them out of their sorrows, we end up blaming the victim.
We turn the victim into the perpetrator so conveniently. We forget that the person, who harassed her today, might harass you or your daughter tomorrow. Our parents listen to the abuse their daughters face from their husband and in-laws, yet instead of calling them out for it, our parents tell the daughter to just deal with it. That they married her off to them, and now the only time the daughter can come back home is when she is inside a coffin.
Women do not need to be polite to people who make them feel uncomfortable. Her uncle sexually harassed her, but you cannot call him out for it because he is a close relative. Since when did we draw that line? Where if a relative harasses you, it is only just a mishap that would never ever be talked about. When did we start caring more about the reputation of the perpetrator than our own daughters? You are selling your daughter, only to hide the evil mind-set of a relative.
It is widely considered for daughters to be a burden, an affliction.
What if our daughters are indeed a blessing, while the sons of other people are the real affliction? The real ordeal? When you rape or abuse a woman, you are not just abusing her, but you are abusing her entire family. The same parents who refuse to take a stance, are hurt and feel enormous amounts of sadness because of what their daughter went through.
Little kids, who want nothing but to enjoy their lives eating candy and playing around with their magical toys, are inflicted with pain when they are so commonly abused and raped. We so conveniently call someone out for being ‘too grumpy’ or too egotistical, just because they do not want to talk or be friends with you.
We do not care to think for a while about why the person is like that. Being sexually harassed at the age of 8, one cannot trust anyone after that. You look at anyone trying to get closer to you, and all you can think of is about how they might have the evilest intentions. People still ask me why I am so grumpy. I get a follow request on my social media, and I cannot even accept it without being scared a little.
Some might find it funny to read, yet most of the people read this will connect to it. I will never be the same me that I was before I was 8 years old.
I feel that social media deserves a huge part of the blame for producing abusers and harassers. It has made us too comfortable for disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it. The keyboard warriors, they turn out to be the ones who find it okay to rape a woman.
When a woman reports that she had been sexually harassed, the first question she is asked is “What were you wearing?”
She wore a short dress, so she was asking for it. She wore lipstick, and therefore I had her consent. In the beginning, she did not want to warm my bed, but after a little conversation, she agreed to it.
All I have got to say is, it is not consent if you make them afraid to say “no”.