“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.


impressed about your concern on raising your voice against these issues. The bad girl, laughing woman but a wonder woman. Keep sharing dear.


Merlin James

Keep laughing Fozia because good girls laugh. I am laughing with you and your friend's daughters who are learning early to speak out. We are all good girls and together we can let every bigot out there know that "GOOD GIRLS LAUGH". Nice and interesting piece. Keep sharing!

Best wishes,


Great you all are laughing with me. Laughter is our first weapon :) We make it our weapon of mass-destruction, nah, for the construction of a powerful network of thinking women. And let the bigots go weak in the knees. And have a heartiest laugh :)) We all good girls.

Yours, Fozia

So, we can't have long face. Now, the bad girl that I am, I laugh. I laugh a lot. Patriarchy can't stand laughing women. A laughing woman a free woman. She is a fearless woman! - such tremendous writing.

There is a quote from one of my favorite historians named Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. She gained a lot of publibity for the phrase "Well behaved women, rarely make history". I used to have that quote up in my kitchen!

Together we can embrace not fitting or allowing the mold to define our potential or decisions!

Let's make history together!

Zoe Piliafas

Voices of Our Future Community Manager World Pulse

Dear Zoe, the foundation for a great future has already been laid. See, how we are all feeling the pulse of it it is so amazing. Girls from any where in the world cutting across caste, colour, religion are united. If this is not the history in making what else is. Ahh, I absolutely love that quote. Thanks for sharing. And see what I have in my kitchen: Before marriage I used to sink in his arms; After marriage, my arms are in his sink ;)

Keep smiling... Fozia

Im so glad to hear another of my species! Being bad is not sin, its a way to stay sane and sensible. Keep laughing and keep exploring the badness and boldness that you always had. Im with you. :D

If bad means progress then I support it; if bad means change then I support it; if bad means empowerment then let's all be bad ...

I really enjoyed reading this.


Dear Fozia, This is a beautiful piece with full of encouragement, hope, and indomitable spirit. Lets Keep sharing and keep rising voices of ours as well as giving voices to voiceless. Thanks, Much love, Jampa

Wow! What a beautifully written story. So powerful. I would love to share this story on my Facebook page if you have no objections.

Thank you for sharing Web 2.0 with her daughters, who are also your daughters. Your love for your friend/sister is profound.

Big Love to You Sister!


"A laughing woman is a free woman. She is a fearless woman!" In one simple line you have nailed the hammer on the head. Thank you sister for your beautiful story!

laughter is the best medicine. laughed my heart out when I read this article. guess im now free and fearless. guess how men react when they put you down and you laugh go girl more laughter power

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest. regards pela

I agree with you dear, laughter is the best medicine. I am so, so glad that I could touch you with my words.

Be free, be fearless wish you love and laughter :)

I LOVE your story. This line struck me most:

"All our stories have a common moral: Half of the world's population is trying to control the other half. "

Very on point. Great piece, keep up the good work!


So glad I came across your post through FB page on World Pulse.

I can very well understand how those good girls are expected to be. Once upon a time I was a good girl. Remnants of that good girl still resides in me. But luckily I have started to change. And I am glad. I am bold and I test my boundaries.

It saddens me to see girls who are quite, who don't express themselves, and it saddens me more when mothers proudly say my daughter will not speak up, that my daughter is well behaved.

The notion of good and well behaved are so twisted out of shape in many parts of he world. It should not be.

Thank you for raising your voice and addressing this topic.

Salaam Aminah

Fozia, I know exactly what you mean by "good girls don't laugh." It was also "good girls don't raise their voice, good girls don't talk back, ..." One should not know a girl lives here and that they can tell by the sound you make, I was told.

Despite that it did not stop my sister and me to challenge many things and it was because we challenged those things we are where we are and I have to thank my parents for their support, especially my mother who was that "good girl"!

Thank you for sharing your story.


Laughter is medicine to the soul. You are totally correct when you say a laughing woman is free. Keep laughing Sister.

Love Precious

My pen speaks

Fozia you a are a genius! This must be one of the best things I have read in a long time liked this phrase particularly 'Half of the world's population is trying to control the other half'.

'The revolution has truly begun and we are at the forefront'