Because I'm a Woman

I cower in a corner
My knees drawn to my chest
Trying to make myself as small a target as possible
Maybe then he won't attack me again
My own father
And I am not even ten yet.

I lie in a field
My dupatta in shreds beside me
Like my dignity
I know no one is looking for me
I'm a lowly farmer's wife
And my caste is too low for me to matter.

I'm naked in a police station
My protectors are my assaulters
My village razed to the ground
"Suspected terrorists" is the cry
My pleas are not enough to convince them
My body is my punishment.

I nurse my baby girl in fear
They might snatch her away from me any moment now
They haven't let me feed her
Her existence is an annoyance, an irritant
Her grandmother dropped her on her head
Two days after she left my womb.

I'm that sister whose brother had a fight
I was used as a tool for revenge
And so they raped me again and again
I crawled home in need of strength and support
My brother declared I tainted his honour
And put me to death himself.

I'm deaf, mute, blind
Handicapped in body, disabled in mind
I can't speak, I can't comprehend
So I can be used and abused
By anyone passing through
I'm not a person, I'm merely a toy.

My uncle sold me to these men
They pumped me full of drugs
Then raped me till I bled
I stand today on a balcony
Garishly dressed, exposing my body
The paint on my face covers the scars.

I've been forced upon by my husband
Date-raped by my boyfriend
Sexually tortured by the police and the army
Forced to accept my rapist as my husband by a khap
Exploited in orphanages and rehabilitation centres
Abused in school by peers and teachers alike

Nobody looks for me
Nobody cares
I'm invisible and unheard
If I'm lucky, I'm a statistic
If I'm unlucky, I'm not even reported
Lost in the numbers, a speck of colour on a chart.

All I want is someone to stand up
And ask what happened to me
To think about me once in a while
As a woman, a human, a living being
Give me justice, respect, equality and empathy
Show me I too can live with my head held high.

I too am Damini, I too am Nirbhaya
I too am Amanat, I too am Jyoti.
Light a candle for me, walk for me
Speak for me, Look out for me
Don't forget me, don't ignore me
More than their brutality, your indifference kills me.

Reposted for Open Link Monday on Imaginary Garden with real Toads

23 comments:

  1. Ma'am, thanks for sharing this. May I use this for the voices for damini initiative? I'll link back.

    P.S. For further contact please use : subhodasgupta16@gmail.com
    The voices for damini facebook page has multiple admins.

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    1. Of course Subh! I inboxed you the link on the FB Voices for Damini page more than an hour back. In future, I'll contact you on gmail itself.

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  2. Whew...this is so moving. What an excellent speaking out on this issue. I hope your words are repeated...over and over, louder and louder.

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    1. Thank you Jennifer. This was an outpouring of grief and shame and rage and helplessness and a resolve to do something about the state of women in India. Google the Delhi gang-rape case to find out more about the issue.

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    2. I hope with you for change! I've been following the story in the news since it broke in December. So horribly heartbreaking. People around the world are indeed hearing more and more about the situation women in India face through the media and especially online news sources. I do hope that the more the word gets out there that change must come--with poems like yours helping to do that as well! Great to 'meet' you Mixi :-)

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  3. Moving, powerful and such an important message.

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    1. Thank you Anthony. Sadly, this is happening even as we speak all over India. The idea is to spread the message as far and wide as we can.

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  4. A very painful poem to read in your poem that conveys a message that needs to to be told. (I AM familiar with the Delhi gang rape as well.)

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    1. Even though it was a shameful incident that reflected horribly on our country as a whole, it brought to worldwide attention what has been ignored or swept under the carpet of culture for far too long.

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  5. I just finished reading "Half the Sky." You fairly synopsized the powerful non-fiction book. Well done.

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    1. Thanks Kim! I didn't know about "Half the Sky" when I wrote this poem. However, i look forward now to reading it.

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  6. So disturbing and so necessary to speak about...I hope your words reach many. ♥

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    1. Yes, it is essential that more and more people raise their voices for change. Global pressure will probably yield better results from our politicians than the angst of their own countrymen.

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  7. This is a powerful voice for those who have lost it to abuse. thank you so much for writing it and sharing it.

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    1. Thank you Susie. This incident has jolted the collective psyche of our country, and it is up to us to not let the momentum die down without change.

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  8. There is a saying "It isnt safe to be a girl child in a world of men". Your poem documents abuse so exactly - it is hard to believe we arent doing any better than this in 2013. You are a voice for the voiceless here. Thank you for writing this.

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    1. You said it precisely the way it is, Sherry. If anything, we seem to be getting worse and more depraved with time. There is hope for better, but the change needs to come from within - within the individual, within society, within our culture and within the country. Thank you for reading. Please spread the message as widely as you can.

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  9. The harshness of reality overwhelms me sometimes, and this writing shines brilliantly with that reality. The line of right and wrong in cases like this is as black and white as it gets in my opinion. Yet ther are those who use hobnailed boots to smear that line into a pretend kind of gray...but they know. Hard pill to swallow. Great writing.

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    1. Sadly, more often than not in our country, the victim is blamed for inciting violence against herself through her actions or her appearance. But we are fighting now, fighting through our words and thoughts and actions. Hope the momentum and outrage lasts long enough to bring about an actual change in the way we as a society think and operate. So often the outrage lasts only as long as it is in the newspapers and forgotten soon after...

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  10. ... very powerful.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!

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