Why am I here?---Simple! I want to write....
23rd September 1997, I was part of a group who is responsible for my cousin Em’s suffering. This was what I believed for so long.
That day, cousin Em was getting married. I was the little bride-maid whose role was to carry fruits along when the bride first showed herself to the groom and audience on the first wedding day. Just because I acted that role on her wedding day, I thought I bear the blame too for letting her marry a brute. I was so naïve I know. I guess it’s because I was too young.
What was the suffering? Well, many. She was beaten almost every day. He didn’t just beat but he blamed; he scolded; he cursed and made her feel so small. In short, he dehumanized her. I told myself at that point that I would never marry any guy. I was just five years old.
Images of the beatings are still clear to me. I was so scared. I really wondered why cousin Em married him and I asked myself why I didn’t question that at the first place. I also asked her why she didn’t divorce him. But there was never a valid answer coming out. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand the whole situation. Later, people were telling that it is normal for a husband to beat a wife. I said, “What?” I was in rage. I then grew my hatred emotion toward men. It was wrong of me. I was a bit over-reacted. But is it my fault? Nobody explained to me why hitting was considered to be normal? I then normalized hitting as well. I re-switch the power subject though. Unlike my poor cousin Em, I didn’t let a boy hit or even touch me. When boys approached me, I had my fist ready. I hit so many rude boys at my school. It’s because I was fearful. I thought if I didn’t hit them first, they would hit me. I thought I needed to be cautious. And I always was.
As growing up, I learned that males of any age have always been privileged. My community people set fixed gendered roles for a girl and a boy. I was repeatedly told what I’m supposed to do and what not while boys were never told or imposed any rule. They made me clearly see that male and female are two different creatures. They imposed the perspective on me that female are inferior, that we are not strong enough, that we can never be fully independent. They told us girls to merely focus on household chores because eventually we can just depend on our husband. And I said, “Yeah, and have your body ready for his slaps and kicks as he would after some time get sick and tired of feeding incapable you?”
I challenged the imposed rules and continue to stay in schools despite of various discouragements telling me to quite school. Yet I don’t know where I would end up if AUW did not exist. It was like one of the best days of my life to have heard the news that I got selected to come to AUW. Here, I’ve learned so much about everything, but most importantly I’ve learned about myself—of why I was ‘disrespectful’ to the ‘superior’ males, not soft like other girls. It was the male-dominant excessive power that intoxicated me and made me resist.
It is also because of AUW that I got to know World Pulse. AUW is the best nurturing environment to me while World Pulse opens up a bigger picture of the women world where we all are still struggling to get out of the ‘second’ category after men.
A lot of time, I ask myself what if I was not born as a girl. Or what if the cousin-in-law didn’t hit my cousin almost every day? What if I didn’t see many other women beaten, abused by their husbands too? Oh, there's another pain I've carried with me all along. One of my best friends was raped when she was just 11. What if she wasn't raped and later ashamed to stay in touch with me? Maybe I would not be this much radical. Yes, radical! I think I am.
It would be strange if I didn’t apply for Voices of Our Future. I want to write. I want to tell stories of my nice cousin and my best friend to everyone because keeping it to myself only, is unbearable. I also want to write about other unfortunate women who have been abused, oppressed, raped and even killed. I want all their painful stories heard so that people would truly care and start joining us to do something for women, to do something for change.