Dear abuser, my truth matters, and your time is up!
To Zainab, Tayyaba, Khadija, Batool, Sajida and every girl that’s been abused, harassed, ignored – this one’s for you.
Six days ago, Oprah Winfrey made history. I sat staring at my laptop screen, feeling her words personify themselves. I felt them dance around, vibrating to be heard and felt. Resonate – yes, that’s what they did.
That’s how real they felt to me in that moment. That is the power of the spoken word.
I don’t usually watch the Golden Globes; sometimes I’ll watch a recap or two. But this time, I found myself going back to the moments both before and after Oprah’s speech. I looked into the onscreen eyes of all these actors and I saw that glimmer, that feeling of long lost hope returning.
Oprah became the first black woman to receive the Cecile B DeMille Award for her amazing contribution to the entertainment industry. She highlighted the ongoing #MeToo campaign that had spread far and wide in Hollywood and appreciated the women who finally spoke out. Acknowledging not just the women in Hollywood but women everywhere, in every occupation, who had been through abuse and harassment, she applauded them for their courage to keep going and their decision to stay in abusive relationships/marriages for the sake of their children and family – like her own mother did. It wasn’t just her words that were inspiring and encouraging, it was the way that she spoke that every eye was on her and every word sunk into our consciousness.
I too –like Oprah and many women out there – long for the day that our girls do not have to be afraid anymore. The precedent has been set – the truth does matter, it always has and it always will. I think somewhere along the way, we just forgot that it did. Oprah’s acknowledgment of speaking your truth matters is just a word of support to all those who have to keep it inside them because they are scared of what their truth might to do them and people around them. This should lend support specially to our Pakistani girls. Our girls are told to hide their pain every day, but their pain deserves to be heard. It deserves to be felt. If you’re reading this, your pain deserves to be heard as well. So today, I long for our women and girls and men and boys to all own their pain. Victims will always be shamed but your truth is more important.
As inspiring as Oprah’s speech was, I think we need to acknowledge one thing – the lack of recognition male harassment gets. In Pakistan, it will always be an ego problem. Patriarchy extends its influence through the stringent ropes of the male ego – a man must not show pain, a man must not surrender his manhood. We tend to push that narrative under the blanket, it’s true, as women – as a woman – we are so rarely heard. But to the men that speak their truths, we stand by you and to the men that listen, thank you for hearing us.
One woman’s story of success – Oprah’s story – will always inspire me. I’m thinking of her as a young girl sitting on the floor and now look at how far she’s come. That’s hope right there. That’s the beauty of determination. To every girl that thinks her life lacks hope, that her dreams are too out of reach, know that circumstances can change.
To Zainab, Tayyaba, Khadija, Batool, Sajida and unfortunately so many girls – every girl that’s been used and abused – this one’s for you. Every girl that’s been harassed, that’s been taken, that’s been mistreated, that’s been ignored – this one’s for you.