About This Story
We asked our online community of grassroots women leaders from 190 countries to submit their true stories about a time they took a stand on an issue they care about. This story is a selection of a few of the most powerful pieces.
Read all the inspiring submissions, and stay tuned for an announcement about next year's My Story contest.
My Story: Standing Up
Standing Up for My Daughters
I was in the 6th week of pregnancy when an ultrasound showed that I was carrying twins. My mother-in-law and husband demanded a sex determination test to know the gender of my babies. They tortured me so that I would get it done.
When I still resisted, they fed me eggs, knowing that I was horribly allergic. They took me to the hospital where I was admitted to the labor room. The gynecologist advised a kidney and bladder ultrasound, but the radiologist conducted a fetal ultrasound instead. The ultrasound delivered the news that my babies were female. This is not what my family wanted to hear.
My mother-in-law asked me to at least have one child killed in-utero. She told me that my two daughters would be a huge burden on the family and that abortion was the only way.
They continued to torture me. On 17 May 2005, after a bout of abuse, I was close to miscarrying. They shut me up in the room without food or water. I managed to call my father in the morning. After much persuasion, my husband agreed to bring me to my parents’ home.
Due to all the tension, I delivered two pre-term daughters on 11 August. Even after the birth of my children, I suffered verbal abuse and I had no help in caring for my babies. My mother-in-law deliberately pushed my 4-month-old daughter down the staircase and pretended it was an accident. The children’s paternal grandparents and aunts rejected them totally. My husband turned me out of the house so he could remarry and have sons.
I have filed a case under the act that bans sex determination tests during pregnancy in India. In doing this I became the first mother to file a complaint under the act. I faced a lot of harassment, but I also saved my two daughters—and for that, I am happy.
Mitukhurana | India
Pictures of Our Ugliness!
“Make sure you take lots of interesting pictures!” That was what my boss requested of me when I sought his permission for a leave of absence to attend my sister’s wedding in Ghana.
It seemed like an innocent request, so I gladly obliged. I was going to take pictures anyway; he didn’t really have to ask.
Two days before my departure, however, my boss repeated his request, this time with exact descriptions of what he expected to see: potholes, pot-bellied children, mud huts, and village people. This was the Africa he knew. This was the Africa he had seen and heard about in the news. This was the Africa he saw when he looked at me, his capable assistant. If I was surprised and offended, I did not show it. After all, he was paying my salary, and he could not possibly mean those things in all seriousness.
Nevertheless, four days later, I found myself taking pictures of the very nature of which my boss requested. I saw the beauty right before my eyes in this place I called home, and yet there I was snapping away in shameless betrayal at every uncovered drain that spewed rubbish. In a part of the city where I accompanied my sister to get her dress hemmed, I found myself taking pictures of slum children. They were my boss’s exact description, and they gladly posed for my lenses. It was not all bad, however. I also found time to take pictures of much of our beauty, including the church where my sister got married, and the beautiful hotel garden where she held her reception.
A few days before my return to the US, we were going through the pictures when my mother asked, “Why are there so many pictures of ‘our ugliness?’” I felt unquestionable shame. This was my home, and I had taken pictures that would help feed my boss’s ignorance of a country he knew nothing about! I was enforcing a stereotype I knew he must have of me too, and by feeding this stereotype I was degrading myself, and the country I love.
Those pictures never made it across the ocean.
Back at the office, I proudly showed off the pictures of my beautiful country. I was also inspired by this experience to educate people like my boss. I started Afrikan Goddess Online, a publication for African women. The publication focuses on our beauty, not our ugliness.
Afrikan Goddess | US/Ghana
. . .