#IndiasDaughter is our daughter, sister, mother, grandmother

#IndiasDaughter deserves a voice

#IndiasDaughter is not singular to India

#IndiasDaughter cannot hide anymore because she is you, me, all of us.

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (by a trusted friend of our family), and I also experienced severe mental abuse in my first marriage. I spent most of my life silent. I down played the trauma, thinking it was ‘nothing’, too afraid to talk, too afraid to look imperfect, used and dirty and too afraid to take a stand for myself and others.

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Photo Credit: Flickr user Ramesh Lalwani via Creative Commons. Scene of protester at Jantar Mantar on 3rd January 2013 making posters,lighting canles of fasting seeking justice for rape victim Jyoti Singh, 23, who died two weeks after her assault..

 

I still blame myself

The torture I put myself under never ends, because society does not scoop you up and accept what you are saying the minute you declare it, society cross examines first, and hugs second.

The fact is the victim is always blamed, there will always be some way to push the blame our way, whether there is substantial evidence or not. Because quite honestly if you don’t do it, we do it to ourselves.

I would like to go on and on about #IndiasDaughter but I thought today I would give us constructive advise – if you don’t want it, find something else to read. Right-About-Now

ACTION STEPS TO BREAKING THE SILENCE 

1. Education:

“If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight.” – quoted from Mr AP Singh, one of the lawyers that defended the gang that raped Ms Jyoti Singh in Dec 2012. 

**Please note: Mr AP Singh will execute his own flesh and blood, rather than deal with the actual problem**

August 15th 2014, The Washington Post reported that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Today, as we hear about the incidents of rapes, our head hangs in shame,” said Modi. “I want to ask parents, when your daughter turns 10 or 12 years old, you ask: ‘Where are you going? When will you return?’ Do parents dare to ask their sons: ‘Where are you going? Why are you going? Who are your friends?’ After all, the rapist is also someone’s son. If only parents would decide to put as many restrictions on their sons as they do on their own daughters.”

Bravo, Modi, please keep your voice on loud speaker, and please pull back the ban on the documentary, India’s Daughter, this is a contradiction in terms, and as much as I applaud you, the message you are sending to Indian parents is inconsistent. That is standard marketing101!

Though to Modi’s point, do we ever tell our kids that they cannot rape? We tell them they must not steal, hurt, hit, EVEN spit, but do we say you must not rape?

Classically in the Indian culture (and I know our culture does not stand alone here) we say nothing to our boys while berating our girls about the shame of being seen with a boy, the shame of being perceived a loose woman, the shame of premarital sex, the shame of divorce, the shame of short skirts and the shame of drinking, even our makeup can be a bone of contention- THE SHAME has us live in a perpetual state of fear and lies. We lie to ourselves and we lie to the rest of the world. All this to keep face. The tradition of looking perfect is so important that we would rather not say anything for fear of being burned at the stake by people like AP Singh. So when we are raped, abused, violated- who are we supposed to talk to? If we ever revealed the truth the cross examination from our own parents will always be ‘Where were you? Who were you with? Were you drinking? What were you wearing?’’ and so little about ‘How can I help you?’

We easily disregard the voice that is crying for help. The voice that is not being heard. Over and above all this, our culture is so deeply steeped in a sense of ‘’what will people say?’’ that we start pointing the finger at the wrong person.

And this is not only an Indian problem.

society cross examines you first, hugs second

The education needed here is so vast that quite honestly where do we begin? BUT if we do not begin now, we will not solve problems later, talk to your people now, talk to your kids now, talk to them about rape/no rape. If you can talk about sex, drugs, alcohol you can talk about rape.

[RELATED POST: The Death of America’s Favorite Dad] 

2. Kitchen table conversation:

What I love to call kitchen table conversation, is a casual, real and honest conversation. The kitchen table is where it all happens. Over the past few weeks I have met two new victims of abuse, who have literally shamed themselves into silence, did you hear that WYV audience, the shame, the silence needs to be reversed. How do we do that? By talking about it.

I recently stumbled upon this awesome woman on youtube – Nadine Burke Harris she talks extensively about how childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime. WAKE UP PEOPLE! 

3. Social media:

Recently, I read a post on someones FB, that criticized using social media as a form of passing on information about serious issues at hand, as it doesn’t actually solve the problem, until we take action. The irony being she was using social media to tell us all. But, I understand too what she was saying, in her defense, talking on social media, talking about it alone, is not solving the root cause. BUT what social media is doing for us is it is getting the conversation started. I use social media to my advantage everyday. Plus publications like Wear Your Voice Magazine survive off social media, it’s our way of keeping you informed. This is a good thing.

Though recently I have been running a little experiment, and I shall collate results soon. But get this, the amount of likes and comments I get on a new hair color- 26 comments, 84 likes, 2 shares…. The likes and comments on a video called ‘’’will you rape me if…’’ – 5 comments one of which was mine, 16 likes, 1 share, and the second person that shared had to take it down due to the backlash she received.

 

And yes, maybe this video is not perfect, but lets not get carried away here. What started out as a moment to share and create awareness became a FaceBook battle field, by who? None other than the women we are trying to support. Women themselves fighting amongst one another questioning intention – aren’t we missing the point here people?….Which leads me beautifully onto the next issue…

4. Keeping it PC? At what cost?

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We as human beings question, and analyse things all day long, and sometimes we think messages are a personal attack on us, when they truly are not. Freedom of speech is our God given right don’t get me wrong, but sometimes, just sometimes we need to run with it, we analyse and question so much we lose the point of what we are trying to do. Yeah we (and I am guilty of this too) spend so much time thinking about how this or that is not perfect, that we forget the point, the message, the intention ….

Proof is in the sharing – do you see how powerful we all are? We managed to silence a FaceBook post, by having the sharer shamed (silenced) into deleting it off her timeline, a share that was bringing more awareness around RAPE. How ironic is that? You want support but you are not willing to fight the good fight. We cannot have it all. How about we redirect that power, that influence and silence the obnoxious comments like this from one of the Delhi rapists himself.

“The death penalty will make things even more dangerous for girls,” he says. “Before, they would rape and say, ‘Leave her, she won’t tell anyone.’ Now when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.”

[RELATED POST: #YESALLWOMEN- A Brief Reading List]

Rape and abuse is everyone’s problem, I am not asking you to protest down the street, (well, I may be) I am asking you to take small easy steps and action. What are you waiting for? Wear Your Voice decided to take action with #KillTheSilence2015,  a year long campaign to end the stigma and victim blaming that sexual assault survivors experience.

TO MAKE A CHANGE WILL TAKE COLLECTIVE ACTION

Hiding under the nearest rock will achieve nothing, what it will do is keep the silence consistent, the violation alive and make sick another generation of innocent children who’s adults chose to not take a stand in the face of adversity.

#WearYourVoice

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