In a society where every 22 minutes a woman is raped, and where survivors are made to live a life of isolation and dishonor, only a Sohaila Abdulali can teach the true meaning of rape. Rape is anything but izzat lootna (stealing the honor), she explains.
“Rape is horrible. But it is not horrible for all the reasons that have been drilled into the heads of Indian women. It is horrible because you are violated, you are scared, someone else takes control of your body and hurts you in the most intimate way. It is not horrible because you lose your “virtue.” It is not horrible because your father and your brother are dishonored. I reject the notion that my virtue is located in my vagina, just as I reject the notion that men’s brains are in their genitals,” she punched all myths. (Source: The New York Times)
Sohaila was gang-raped by 4 men, in Mumbai, when she was hardly 17. But like a warrior, she fought. When denied justice, she unleashed the pain, anger, and above all the power within into a fiery essay. “I Fought For My Life …And Won!” she wrote. Through her words, she not only fought for herself but for the whole womankind.
Society would have liked her to feel ashamed and her family dishonored but Sohaila, and her family, refused to oblige.
“Being raped was terrible beyond words, but I think being alive is more important. When a woman is denied the right to feel this, there is something very wrong in our value system,” Sohaila added.
Today, 32 years after the incident, Sohaila is a successful woman who’s living her dream in US along with her husband and daughter. She is an author, freelance editor, public speaker, teacher, and a voice for all women.
In a recent article for The New York Times Sohaila stresses, “I WAS WOUNDED; MY HONOR WASN’T.”
Her latest article and the original essay are a must read for all women and girls on this planet. It’s the kind of knowledge and power they all need to survive and excel in this world where many treat women as merely sex objects.
Thanks Sohaila! We salute you!