Story of survival!

Fariha Akhtar
Posted September 27, 2010 from Pakistan

They ogled, they passed sexually suggestive remarks, and they brushed against my body but I was asked not to speak up. While commuting regularly through public buses, I covered myself with a large dupatta (scarf) to escape their stares and touching but often failed to. I cried as each unwanted touch kept wounding me, I felt helpless as I cannot report to anyone because I was told this is common and something that each woman experiences. I was also told that I will be harming my own reputation should I utter a word. However, I kept thinking if a crime that becomes common no longer remains a crime? The anger, the rage and the frustration that was bottling up inside me wanted an outlet and so one day while attending a session on ICT4D (ICTs for Development) with Vickram Crishna (one of the creators of speech software for Stephen Hawking) - where everyone was sharing ideas on how ICTs can be used for betterment of community, I spoke up.

With a choking voice, afraid that the people around will make fun of me, I put forward an idea of using ICTs to fight against female harassment. To my surprise, I was highly encouraged and that was the beginning of converting all negative energy I had gathered inside into positive energy that gives me strength to fight not just for myself but millions others who are asked to stay quiet and withstand abuse on a daily basis. ICTs for me were the Internet and Mobile Phone so I started being vocal about street harassment online because I believe the first step towards bringing about a change is changing mindsets and that one can with the power of his/her words. I faced negative criticism, I faced angry feedback but what my blog posts, my tweets, my text messages and my Facebook statuses and Notes gained me the most is a network of like minded people, who want to bring about a change as much as I want to. We all want to make it safer to live offline and online for both genders. It was through one such friend that I was introduced to Pulse Wire. I thought my journey to Pulse Wire has been a tough one and even writing this assignment was emotionally draining for me as it brought back many painful memories of harassment. However, reading my other Pulse Wire friends makes me feel, there are women who have had worse experiences than I had; but we all have chosen to be survivors than victims and I believe, together we can help other victimized men and women survive and stand tall too.

Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision

Comments 12

Log in or register to post comments
  • Julie Tomlin
    Sep 27, 2010
    Sep 27, 2010

    Is inspiring. It takes great courage to speak out against the things we are told we should simply accept. Julie

  • Diana Vegas
    Sep 27, 2010
    Sep 27, 2010

    Speak out, speak up! in silence nothing can be changed! great work

    In lake'ch

  • Sahar
    Sep 27, 2010
    Sep 27, 2010

    Dear Fariha

    You are so brave and your idea is very innovative

  • Benita
    Sep 27, 2010
    Sep 27, 2010

    you spoke out innovatively, so others safety can be kept, thank-you for conquering your fear.

  • PaxFeminina
    Sep 27, 2010
    Sep 27, 2010

    Fariha, your courage and bravery is wonderful. You spoke up on behalf of every woman who felt she could not say anything when sexually harassed, and your idea is fantastic.

    thank you again,

  • Amei
    Sep 28, 2010
    Sep 28, 2010

    I understand the emotional drain. It was a tough ask. You've done it. I applaud :-)

    A friend, Amei

  • Tripti
    Sep 28, 2010
    Sep 28, 2010

    What you have stated about women falling pray of street harassment is the bitter truth for all of us. We all have experience such silent atrocity of our soul bit by bit with just a simple inhumane act. I agree it is a big issue to be considered and a must one. We all know we are all victimized one time in our lives if not more. Thank you for sharing this story of yours and your effort of speaking up, while most of us kept silent. I love you for stepping forward! :)

  • Olutosin
    Sep 28, 2010
    Sep 28, 2010

    Learning and knowledge is a gift we must utilize positively, beautiful you, beautiful heart.

  • Song Of Joy
    Sep 28, 2010
    Sep 28, 2010

    Fariha, Keep up the wonderful work you are doing!! Let your voice to be heard and help others lift theirs!! Bless you!! Song!

  • Gifty Pearl Correspondent
    Sep 30, 2010
    Sep 30, 2010

    Dear Fariha, I have been moved deeply by your story. Your experience of speaking up for yourself and all the sisters in the world about issues that concern our development and well being. You are a strong woman with a brave heart. With your innovative initiative in your community, many women will be blessed your VOICE.

    You have drawn me into your personal story by empting your emotions. Your line 'With a choking voice, afraid that the people around will make fun of me, I put forward an idea of using ICTs to fight against female harassment' brought tears in my eyes. Tears for your bravery and of joy of the good results of your vision and initiative.Female harassment is still an issue in many parts of the world and changing mindset is a step in the right direction. Congrats and keeping sharing your vision and speaking your VOICE on Pulsewire and taking action to change the world.

    Good Luck

  • Andrea Bailey
    Sep 30, 2010
    Sep 30, 2010

    Thank you for overcoming your own barriers to help other women break through theirs. Don't let anyone discourage you - and always feel free to come to Pulse Wire for encouragement! Andrea

  • Larissa Bery
    Oct 17, 2010
    Oct 17, 2010

    Dear Fariha, I am here as part of the listener group to congratulate you in this assignment. I can tell by the way you had written your piece how this theme affects you. It must had been hard to write about this issues when you still have to face them on your daily life. But I belive you are in the right path, breaking the silence rule you can inspire other women to also speak up about gender abuse and together we can only grown stronger, reach political power and make changes possible. Your text is touchy and catchy, but the beginning could be a little more clear...Clarifying the abreviations helps the reader to keep following your thoughts. I wish you good luck with everything and all the best :-)