I am ashamed that as I celebrated International Women’s Day, countless other women like me are being raped, abused, and treated as secondary citizens.
I am ashamed that a rapist is taking pride in being a moral police on what time a woman should go out.
I am ashamed that a lawyer is ready to burn his daughter alive if she disobeys him.
I am ashamed that the same lawyer who is supposed to speak for the law dares to speak in public of unlawful acts like murdering his daughter.
I am ashamed that a government values law and order more than the underlying ethics the law is supposed to protect.
I am ashamed that the largest democracy in the world which fervently speaks of “Beti Bachao” is willing to ban a beti’s voice without a second thought.
I am ashamed that politicians are so busy deciding what is “offensive to women” that they are blatantly ignoring offenses against women.
I am ashamed that marital rape is not only unrecognized by the law of this government, but is explicitly defined as “not rape”.
Then I wonder, “How did it come to this?” And I am ashamed…
I am ashamed that this rapist is not the only one to blame.
I am ashamed that he is a product of my society – the society where a goddess is worshiped but a woman is disrespected.
I am ashamed that female feticide and infanticide still happens.
I am ashamed that the same women who hate rape are asking their daughters-in-law to give them a grandson – not a grandchild – a grandson.
I am even more ashamed that some of my own friends are getting pregnant the second time – not because they want another child but because they want a son.
I am ashamed that many wives don’t have the freedom of choosing if they want children or how many.
I am ashamed that many people show how progressive they are by saying, “We love our sons, but we also love our daughters.” Nobody is questioning the odd placement of that “But… also” in their minds.
I am ashamed that my nieces only receive dolls and play kitchens on their birthdays, and all my nephews care about, are cars and toy guns.
I am ashamed that while my father was forced to be a doctor his sister was forced to cook and clean.
I am ashamed that what happened in my father’s generation is still happening in some of my friends’ houses.
I am ashamed that I once did not want my husband to be a stay at home dad. I am ashamed that many of my friends still don’t.
I am ashamed that only women talk about work-life balance. Men take it for granted.
I am ashamed that many young boys are allowing their parents to shamelessly negotiate dowry, and young girls and their parents are obliging.
I am ashamed that a wedding is still not a 50-50 expense from both parties. While a bride’s side plans and pays for it, a groom’s side is busy nitpicking what’s going wrong.
I am ashamed that a 20 something friend of mine has given up eating meat because her husband is vegetarian – not out of love, but out of societal expectations of a good wife.
I am more ashamed that she is not ashamed of her “choice”.
I am ashamed that while a friend is juggling a high profile job, 3 children, and household responsibilities, her husband does not even watch their child for 10 minutes when she is taking a shower.
I am more ashamed when he shamelessly says, “I just can’t do it! Hats off to my wife.”
I am even more ashamed when she chooses to entertain the child by talking from behind the bathroom door instead of having a reality check with her husband.
I am ashamed that my friend who hates cleaning, leaves in the middle of our interesting discussions only because she has to clean her house before her husband gets home. You see, he does not like a dirty house, but then again he does not like cleaning it either.
I am ashamed that my mother did not stand up for herself even when she disagreed with my father’s opinions.
I am ashamed that I still do it under the same excuse of avoiding arguments.
I am ashamed that there are many women who do not even realize or accept that they are being stifled every day.
I am ashamed that we are as quick in cursing the culprit as we are in saying, “Things happen. There is nothing we can do about it.”
Well, I am no longer going to be stuck in that trap. Because I know unless I stand up for what matters to me, nobody else will. I cannot expect a hero to create a safe future for me and my daughters; I myself have to create it.
And it all starts today!
I will no longer blame the society for my problems.
I will no longer doubt my ability to change me.
I will no longer be hesitant to speak up for my seemingly simple rights… only because it isn’t a rape.
Photo courtesy: Varun Kakde of Aperture Adventures