|Md Shoaib is a member of YRC Roshni,|
Gender Volunteer (2013)
“I do not hear those lovely sounds in my cage now
I wish my freedom was in my own hands”
from "parinde ki fariyad" by Dr. Allama Iqbal
I am Shoaib, 20 years old, living in Rajabazar and a member of Roshni youth group.
I am a boy and because of this, I am free. I can go anywhere I please. If I am late in returning, people at home tend to shut up after chiding me a couple of times. But a girl, from when she is 12-14 years old, cannot come and go as she wants. If she is a bit late in returning home, she is questioned about her whereabouts; her parents and her brother too can raise their fists to beat her, if they think it should be done. I have witnessed violence on women in my society since childhood; I never liked what I saw. Girls seem to have chains tied to their feet all the time.
I have a friend who is very scared of her younger brother, because despite being younger than her, he abuses her a lot and feels he has the right to ‘discipline’ her. “A boy and a girl cannot be friends” – this is what society believes. If a girl stops on the road to exchange a few words with a friend, and people at home get to know, from then on she is denied permission top go out. She becomes like a caged bird, who can see the world outside but cannot go there.
After marriage, a girl thinks that at last she will get the chance to live life a little more on her own terms. But she finds that she still needs to take permission from her husband or in-laws for every little thing. She feels that she has returned to the same world she had left. When her husband too doesn’t support her, all her dreams and aspirations start falling apart.
I know a girl who was quite free-thinking. One day she happened to return home late, and she was asked a number of questions by her family. From then on, she wasn’t allowed to go anywhere alone; her brother accompanied her everywhere. Because of this, she couldn’t talk to her friends freely. There was always this nagging fear in her that if something went wrong, maybe her studies would also be stopped. Gradually her interactions with friends dwindled and died and all her dreams too started dying.
Whenever I am outside the four walls of home, I feel a kind of peace. Then I think of my friend who was confined at home from morning till night, and couldn’t do anything except plead to go out. But in spite of knowing everything, I could do nothing as I perceived myself to be alone against the larger society.
From my childhood, I have seen that Ammi and Abbu inform each other when going out. They shared equal rights. I don't have a sister, just an elder brother; and although I have not had any conversation about violence with him, I know his ideas and mine do not match at all - like they say, fingers of the same hand are not all equal.
My father always says "Have concern for others". He is a lawyer, and I see that he often helps people without concern for his fees, because they are in need. I always try to hold on to that. I think of the girls in my community, and wonder why some parents can not trust and support their daughters.
One day a girl from our neighbourhood, Shahina, brought me to an organization called Thoughtshop Foundation. I had thought this too would be a regular office, but while filling in the Induction Form here, I thought that these were questions that I had wanted to ask for several years.
I took a Gender training at TF, and learnt that violence against women is a social issue and this happens not only in my society, but in societies worldwide, and that many people are fighting to stop this. That day I felt that I wasn’t alone. I too can work towards stopping violence against women.
Now I had the courage to talk to my friend’s parents. One day I went to their home and spoke to them. I reasoned that if their son came home late, they didn’t beat or confine him, then why did they behave like this with their daughter? Both were their children and both should have the same freedom. They must trust their daughter in the same way as they trust their son. That way, she too could fulfil her dreams and the parents too would be happy in seeing her happy. Perhaps my words had some effect on the parents. Today, my friend is doing her BA and going all out to fulfil her dreams.
After getting associated with TF, I have gained the courage to speak out on several such occasions. I had thought that society inflicts violence only on girls but I saw that if someone was not from our religion, we thoughtlessly committed violence on that person too. One night a man came to our masjid and asked for water. I saw some men preventing him from drinking water there. They pushed him so that he fell onto the road. There were many people on the scene but no one supported him. I came forward and told those men that water was a gift from Allah and everyone had the right to use it. They said that I was too young, and besides, what did I know of these things? I asked in which book it was written that only those who prayed in the masjid would be allowed to drink water there? After this, there were no more words and the man drank water in peace.
I do believe Human Being is most precious (Ashraful Makhluqat), and human beings must think about each other, and speak up against any form of violence.
[If you felt something after reading this post, please leave a comment; it would mean a lot to this young author! Click here to jump to the comment section. The English version has been translated from the original article below]
Azaadi Ke Liye Awaaz Uthao
"aati nahin sadayen uski meri qafas mein
hoti meri rihaii ye kaash mere bas mein"
"parinde ki faryad" Dr. Allama Iqbal
main Shoaib, bees saal ka hun, aur Rajabazaar me rahta hun. hum ladke kahin bhi ja sakte hain, aur agar aane me der ho jata hai, to ek do baat sunte hain, fir gharwaale chup ho jaate hain. par 12-14 saal se hi ek ladki kahin aa-jaa nahin sakti hai. agar ghar aane me use thoda der ho jaata hai, to use tarah-tarah ki sawal kiya jaata hai, aur mummy-papa ya bhai bhi agar thik samajhta hai to use maar sakta hai. hum apne jis samaaj me rahte hain, wahan pe ladkiyon ke upar violence hona bachpan se hi dekh rahe hain, aur tab se hi yah mujhe accha nahin lagta tha. aisa lagta hain ki sari umr ladkiyon par samaaj ek pavandi lagakar rakhta hai.
mere ek dost hai jo apne chhote bhai se bahut darti hai, kyunki chhota hone ke bawajud bhi uske upar bahut zulm karta hai aur usko 'discipline' karne ka haq jatata hai. "ek ladka aur ek ladki dost nahin ho sakte hain" yah samaaj ka vishwas hain. agar raaste me ek ladki koi dost se kuchh der baat kar leti hai, aur yah ghar me pata chal jaata hai, tab se use ghar se nikalne ki ijazat nahin milti hai. wo ek parinde ki tarah qaid ho jaati hai, jo bahar ki duniya dekh to sakti, par wahan ja nahin sakti.
Jab uski shaadi ho jaati hai, tab woh sochti hai ki ab hum apni marzi se kahin bhi aa-jaa sakte hain. lekin kabhi use kahin jaane ke liye sasuraal waalo ki ijazat lena parta hai tab woh kuch der lke liye sochti hain ki hum fir se usi jagah pe aa gaye hai. Aur jab us waqt uska pati uska saath nahin deta hai tab uske saare armaan aur saapne toot kar bikhar jaate hain.
main ek aisi ladki ko janta hun jo kafi azaad khayal ki thi. ek din ghar aane me thoda der kya ho gaya, to use bahut saare sawal kiye gaye, aur iske baad se wo kahin akeli nahin jaa pati; uske saath uske bhai jaata tha. is vajah se wo apni doston se thik tarah se mil nahin pati thi, nahin sahi se baat kar pati. uske dil me dar laga rahta tha ke agar kuch gadbad ho, to shayad uski padhayi bhi bandh kar diya jayega. dhire dhire uski sab dosto se milna bandh ho gaya aur uske sapne tutne shuru ho gaye.
jab hum ghar se bahar rahte hain, to hame ek tarah ki sukun milta hain. Fir apne dost ke baare me sochta hun, ki who subah se raat tak qaid me rahti hai, aur fariyad ke ilawa aur kuchh nahin kar sakti hain. sab kuchh jaante huye bhi hum kuchh nahin kar pa rahe the, kyunki hum apne aap ko akele mahsoos karte the.
Maine bachpan se hi apne ghar me yahi dekha hai ke Ammi Abbu kahin bhi jaate hain to ek dusre ko bata ke jaate hain. Un dono me barabari ke huq hai. meri koi behen to nahin hai, ek bara bhai hai. Maine uske saath kabhi bhi violence ke upar baat nahin kiya, kyunki mujhe pata hain ki uska khayal mere khayal se nahin milta hain - jaise kehte hain, ek hi haath ke panch ungli barabar nahin hote.
ek din hamare ilake ke ek ladki, shahina baazi, mujhe TF naam ka ek organisation me leke aai. pehle main sochta tha ki yah regular ek daftar hoga, par yahan pe aake induction form bharti karte waqt mujhe laga ki yah sawal kai saalon se mere andar bhi the. maine TF se gender ka training liya. iss se mujhe pata chala ki ladkiyon ke upar zulm ek samajik issue hai, aur yah sirf mere samaaj me nahin, balke pure duniya me ho raha hai, aur bahut log ise bandh karne ke liye lad rahe hain. us din mujhe laga ki ab hum akele nahin hain. hum bhi yah hinsa bandh karne ke liye kaam kar sakte hain.
abhi mera himmat huya ki main mere dost ke ammi-abbu se baat karun. ek din main unke ghar gaya aur unko samjhaya ki agar unka beta kahin se der aata hai, wo use nahin marte yaghar mein bandh to nahin karte… to apne ladki ke saath kyun aisa karte hain? ladki-ladka dono hi unke bacche hain, aur dono ki aazaadi ek tarah ki hi hona chahiye. jaise who apne ladka pe bharosa karte hain,wahi bharosa unhe apni ladki par bhi karna parega. iss tarah who bhi apne sapne aur armaan pura kar payegi, aur mata-pita ko bhi apne ladki ko khush dekhke accha lagega. Shayad mere baaton se unpar kuch asar hua. Usi wajah se aaj meri dost BA padh rahi hai aur apne har sapna ko pura kar rahi hai.
TF ke saath judne ke baad aise kai jagah mujhe bolne ki himmat aya hai. maine socha tha ki samaj me sirf ladkiyon ke upar zulm hota hain, par maine dekha ke agar koi bhi aadmi hamaare dharm ka na ho, hum uske upar bhi bina soch ke zulm karte hain. ek din raat ke waqt ek aadmi hamare masjid ke paas aake paani peena chaha. maine dekha ki kuch aadmi use paani peene se roka aur dhakka deke usko raaste me phenk diya. wahan pe bahut log the par koi bhi us aadmi ka saath nahin diya. tab maine un logo se kaha ki "paani allah ki ek neemat hain, har koi isse istmal kar sakta hai" woh mujhe bole ki main bahut chhota hun aur mujhe yah cheez ke baare me kya pata? phit maine bola ki yah kis qitab main likha huya hain ki jo masjid me namaaz padhne ke liye ayenge wahi log sirf paani pi sakenge? isske baad baat aur nahin badhi, aur woh aadmi paani pi saka.
Hame yakin hain ki Allah ne hame Ashraful Makhluqat banaya hain, kyunki inshaan hi sabse afzal hain. aur har ek insaan ko dusre insaan ke baare me sochna chahiye - kahi par bhi zulm ho, to hame us zulm ke khilaf awwaz uthana chahiye.