2015 essay contest honorable mention
by Fatima Rehan
11th grader, Beaconhouse School, Pakistan
“United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.”
-‐ Patrick Henry
The first segment of this statement has certainly become one of the most common slogans of a significant amount of social campaigns and motivational speeches in the modern century. Focusing on this entire statement we realize it’s much more than a mere compilation of thought-‐provoking fancy words, it’s a message. Gender discrimination, sexual harassment, domestic violence, infringement of women’s rights as an individual, child abuse, economic inequality, human trafficking, eve teasing – just a small fraction of the issues that females still face in this modern world. Uncountable more can be added to this list but what is the root of all this evil? The fact that somewhere not people from the opposite but the same gender are involved in the propagation of such issues. Women themselves choose not to voice their opinions rather either quietly witness this inequity and sometimes tend to support such actions too.
Who are we to blame men when a mother-‐in-‐law herself forces her daughter-‐in-‐law for abortion after sex determination to get rid of a young girl who has yet not even opened her eyes in this world? Who are we to speak up against such heinous acts when we ourselves are the ones poisoning a girl in her mother’s womb to fulfill our greed, our desires for a male child? Who are we to demand an end to such atrocities, when we as mothers ourselves force our daughters to do as they are told fearing that recalcitrance could result in a broken marriage? This is just one example; the fact is not one such matter can be solely blamed on the attitudes of men. When a man carries out an act of domestic violence, not one female member of his family stands up with the victim. They all witness this blindly and not one raises a hand to stop him and protect the sufferer. His mother may consider it unethical if her daughter was the prey. Here she chooses not to say a word in support of her daughter-‐in-‐law and unfortunately sometimes backs the predator too. We all find it fairly easy and customary as feminists to become a part of processions demonstrating solidarity with a rape victim. But does even one single woman choose to become the defender of the victim rather than a witness when the fact is that 90% of such acts are carried out publicly? Who should we blame? The rapist or his mother who chooses not to speak up against the inhumane attitude of her husband towards her, inculcating this thought into her son that you are free to do as you wish; no woman will dare to protect herself from you. It is us, who cover our daughters’ mouths when they intend to speak up against the sexual abuse that they face by our own family members, for the sake of their father’s respect and family’s prestige.
Who are we to blame a man for the injustice that a women faces when we ourselves are the ones who tend to encourage, instigate and facilitate him to do so? Who are we to call our son-‐in-‐laws a beast when we ourselves created the one who daily tortures our daughter-‐in-‐laws? If we fail as mothers to stop our own son from committing such acts then who are we to blame someone else? If you failed to teach your son the difference between right and wrong, you have no right to banally blame a certain gender. Before you choose to call someone a male chauvinist and become a feminist, get a reality check.
If you fail to support the victim at your home, don’t stand up for the one that you heard about upon the news. If you can’t stop the attacker’s hand don’t raise a candle for the victim.
If today, the safe existence of women has become a challenge than it’s high time to realize that we ourselves are responsible for this disunity amongst women that has lead to a woman backing a crime carried upon another woman. This is an endless chain, break it. Become a better mother, sister, aunt, grandmother and stop your son, brother, nephew or grandson. Support other women; don’t underestimate your power, together we can reform this society. Choose to bring an end to these injustices rather than witnessing silently. Play your part and the results will speak for themselves.