I`m thinking of all the people, especially women, we`re not able to hear. Of all the women, who are objects of social control every single day. Of all the women who`re screaming under water. They read articles, they read what we, who`re more privileged, say and I`m sure some notice how we`re more interested in fighting each other, instead of focusing on helping these people. I can feel their helplessness. They are so many and yet, we barely hear them. Maybe it`s because we fight too much, or maybe it`s because their screams aren`t able to reach us. Maybe it`s because the worst things happen behind locked doors. I`m thinking of these people who have written something in the media about extremism, social culture or honour culture and therefore have been brought to silence. They have met their sanctions, they`ve disappointed their parents, their family and are therefore told to not speak up anymore. Since they`ve brought shame on your family, they need to shut up.
Can we, if not for our own sake then their sake, give them some attention?
I can assure you there`s a girl out there, that`s crying herself to sleep because she can`t do what she wants to do. It`s not like her parents, her family or her friends always directly tell her she can`t wear a t-shirt or a short skirt, or that she`s not allowed to hang out with boys. Of course these were things she was taught when she was still a little girl, but now she knows these things by heart. She knows what she should do and not and therefore, she stops herself many of the times from doing everything she wants. Whether it`s writing an article in the local newspaper or it`s wearing the sleeveless dress she`s hid inside her wardrobe. Because what`ll happen if she doesn`t follow the rules of the game? She`ll bring shame on her family, she`ll disappoint people she loves and that way, she`ll end up disappointing herself.
They know how to play with her conscience and they know how to make her push the right buttons.
It frustrates me how the more “privileged” ones act like these things are okay. Or they act like not many are living with such circumstances. Many of us don`t notice the silent girls, the girls that are too scared to share whatever`s on their mind because they know very well that`ll cause them trouble. WHY don`t we help these girls more?? There are so so many girls out there, who`re afraid. Afraid to live their own lives the way they want to, afraid to go out late at night, afraid to fall in love with “the wrong boy”, afraid to dress in an inappropiate way. Maybe a friend of her mum will see her with a boy and call her mum to share the “latest news.” Or maybe one of the taxi drivers will catch her and let her dad know what she`s doing 12 am in the city. There`s always someone stalking you and making sure you follow the social rules and norms, and these women (and men, of course) have to be careful or else it can go very, very wrong.
We`ve already seen that. Women have been burned alive for falling in love with the “wrong guy”, for doing something they tought was right. Zeenat Rafique, 18, was strangled and set alight by her mother and brother in June 2016 after she eloped against their wishes. Jer mother and brother tied her to a bed, poured gasoline and set her on fire. What about Souad`s brother who killed his own sister with a telephone cord? Or what about all the mothers who kill their baby girls right after giving birth to them, simply because they are girls? Women have been killed in the name of “honour”, they have been killed by families who wanted to make their daughters shut up forever. We don`t hear that much about the men who suffering, but they exist too. Many men are married to women they don`t love and they are victims of a shame culture too. I could mention many more horrible consequences many human beings who don`t follow the rules the family or the community has set, have to live according to on a daily basis, but we talk more about the “worst things” than everything that happens in silence or the things we barely notice.
We barely hear about the girls and boys that are suffering in silence. They don`t let anyone know what kind of life they`re living. Many live double-lives, because that`s easier, in many ways. You can be who they want to be in “another world.” Many are locked up inside, but act like nothing. Letting anyone know, would be shameful. People shouldn`t know. God, it makes me sad to think of all the girls and boys that have no wings and aren`t allowed to be free. They suffer in silence, they can`t satisfy their own expectations and needs.
And instead of focusing on these people and giving them attention and love, way too many of us focus on how people who point these problems out, are racists or hate Muslims. Some of us even ignore it all, we act like these things barely happen and that the real problems lie somewhere else. I`m sure victims of social control would appreciate it if the privileged ones saw them and cared about them way more. I`m sure they`d appreciate a helping hand, I`m sure they`d be more than happy to know some of us, who`re more privileged, are spending some of our lives to help them live the life they`ve always imagined for themselves, and replace control and fear, with dreams, hope and love. I know they`d be thankful if we saved them from drowning.