“Don't raise your voice. Good girls don't talk loud.” That's the meant-for-girls-only wisdom prevalent in my part of the world. A born rebel, I would ask, “What else do good girls do?”. They suffer in silence. They sulk. And cry, but silently. I have seen so many go through hell.... So, I choose to be a bad girl. Good girls stay home, but bad girls go everywhere!
I turned into a bad girl right after I saw what happened with my good friend. She is also my first cousin and used to live with us. She was the eldest of the three sisters and her father would blame my aunt for putting on him the curse of so many daughters. To lighten his burden, my father got her home. My father wasn't a wealthy man himself. His ran a small handicraft business which was badly hit by the conflict in Kashmir. Yet no compromise was made our education. We went to school together, read books and and shared jokes. She would laugh out loud at my jokes. 'Good girls don't laugh,' we were told. 'It sends across bad signals.' So, we would make do with giggles. We two, good girls.
But everything changed six days before her 15th birthday. Her father came to take her away with an announcement that he had fixed her marriage. But how? She is just a child; she has to sit for her exams and the person she'll be married to is 21 years older to her. I need to get rid of this burden, he killed the argument along with the dreams of my cousin. She was silent. I tried to make a joke, she just smiled and left. But it was probably a joke taken too far...
Fifteen years hence, my good friend looks 15 years older to me. Her husband wanted a son and had one after four daughters. It's not easy to raise five children for him. Frustrated, he's abusive. Everyday she has a fresh proof of violation on her body. He beats the daughters too. And she takes it silently.
The fateful day, when my friend was taken away marked the turning point in my life too. That was the day I started looking at life through a different prism. A woman's prism. What makes her a burden? Why is she so quiet? Why doesn't she raise her voice? What if she had raised a voice then? And why can't good girls laugh?
Life went on. I completed college and went the University. I chose to be a journalist. I travelled and did photography. Over the years, I met so many women in whom I revisited my good friend. Like her, they said they once used to be full of life, but never in charge of their lives. Like her they are voiceless. I give them a listening ear. Trust me, they need that the most. They need to be told that they are no alone. I take it as my responsibility to not only give them a voice, but also raise their voices through the loudspeaker of my pen. But that's just a part of what I do. We need to share their stories with the world.
And the discovery of World Pulse for me came as an answer to all the above questions. Voices are certainly rising. All our stories have a common moral: Half of the world's population is trying to control the other half. Imagine, what my good friend's story would have been, had we had the Internet revolution, and forums like the World Pulse fifteen years back. So many of us united for a common vision, common passion and looking for solutions.
To begin with, I have introduced my friends's tech-savvy daughters to the Web 2.0. The revolution has begun...
But I know that the battle against Patriarchy is going to be a long one. So, we can't have long face. Now, the bad girl that I am, I laugh. I laugh a lot. Because Patriarchy can't stand laughing women. A laughing woman is a free woman. She is a fearless woman!
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision.