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Click and Change!

I lost my father when I was 8. I remember he was an incredibly loving father who wanted to see me grow to be a strong and empowered woman. However, what I remember more clearly is how many after his death did all that they could, to stop me from turning into a person my father wanted me to be. By the time, it was his Soyem (third day of mourning observed by Muslims), I was in tears already not just because I had lost a loving father but because I was being subjected to ruthless comments in my own home. Everybody wanted me to live my life their way and be a puppet so that they can tug my strings anytime they wish to stop me from moving ahead. After all, I was half orphan now and my mother was not expected to be able to take care of me properly as she was a WOMAN. However, that woman alone was the reservoir of strength that my father left for me.

I wanted to study a lot but as soon as I completed my High School, my self-assumed guardians suggested my mother to get me married. My mother did not listen to them. I wanted to earn a professional Software Engineering degree but they said, “A short course or diploma in anything will be best for you.” My mother was about to succumb to their forced suggestions when I resisted and she stood behind me. I studied day and night to acquire scholarships so I can pay my university fee. Once, the only gold chain that I had also came to my rescue when I couldn’t get a funding. I graduated as Software Engineer, got a good job and was again forced by my self-assumed guardians to marry someone who was no match. I refused as I wanted to focus on my career and get advanced education too. I was joked upon and was told to get old waiting for prince charming.

I have indeed got old now, more than a quarter century old but ‘am still happily (un)married. I’d have worried to death because in the world that my self-assumed guardians showed me, a girl was nothing unless she gets married. Society would consider her respectable and an achiever only if she is married. She will continue being abused in various forms unless she finds the solution in form of marriage. At one point, I feared all this to be true specially when I experienced street abuse; and lost all my hopes.

However, my magic machine – my computer showed me a different world. I travelled across the world through internet, made friends – men and women who are doing amazingly well in their respective fields because of their passion and self-confidence. I read about women who are married yet experiencing violence and also about women who are unmarried yet doing wonders. I also read about many who are not just happily married but also successful in their careers and then I also read about those who are regularly abused yet they do not know how to speak up. I feel for them as I have also been there, however, what made a world of difference for me was the education and exposure to different kinds of people – thanks to ICTs!

ICTs have not only rekindled inside me the hope to be the strong woman that my late father wanted me to be but have also given a platform where can I speak my mind, vent out, seek help and grow. I have started using them to speak for other women too who are being subjected to any form of VAW. However, I still need to go a long way to give them the courage and support that they need to triumph.

My vision is to give them the self-confidence to have their own visions. I do not want them to see the world through anybody else’s eyes. Being a Pulse Wire correspondent I would not only make my words reach everywhere but also make those words devise practical solutions to end misery of women, with the help of my Pulse Wire friends and mentors.


Iffat Gill's picture


It is such a brave move, writing about your whole life along with the ups and downs of struggling women who seem to somewhat 'miss' the identity in the absence of a male in our society! More than that, wonderful to read bout your accomplishments. You are a fighter... a survivor... so proud of you.Keep up the struggle and wish you more success.


Iffat Gill

irmia's picture


Salam Fariha:

It's challenging for me when you mention 'guardian'.
I think (as a Muslim), we both know that guardian is a challenging issue.
When my father passed away last May, people (mostly women) who came to his funeral not only expressed their condolence, but also expressed their sorry that we (directed to my elder sister, my mother, and me) lost our guardian (not expressed their sorry because we lost our loved one).
To be honest, that was so annoying.

They felt pity to us because my sister and I are 30s and not yet married, and we lost our guardian.
That was so ridicolous for me.

That's why I support the movement that attempts to reform marriage law. We're still fighting.


JessiSchimmel's picture

Inside out

Reforming the perception that a woman needs a man as her guardian is important work. You have a great opportunity to speak out for many women who cannot.

Keep fighting for what you think is right and what makes you happy.


irmia's picture

You are absolutely right!

Hi Jessi:

Thanks for the support :)
And, we're lucky to have this great woman activist, Musdah Mulia. She has wonderful spirit. I remember when she was in one forum with a conservative intellectual whose supporters yelled at her when she gave presentation. She still stood up and kept calm until the forum was finished.


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