ONE STEP AT A TIME

ONE STEP AT A TIME

I was sitting on my bed doing my homework when my sister opened the door and silently crept into the room, as though walking on eggshells. I warily watched her progress across the room and raised an eyebrow in a silent question when she plopped down onto the bed next to me. She shrugged in reply and grabbed the TV remote, ignoring me. I went back to the words I was writing on my notebook for school. It was a normal day at the Ahmed household… if you ignored the constant voices in the background yelling at one another. Our eldest sibling, Sarah, was fighting with our father for hurting our mother. Again. Our 15-year-old sibling had unconsciously stepped into the role of ‘savior’ ever since she was old enough to defend the woman who gave birth to us all. It did not matter how rich our father was, it did not matter how much bigger or stronger he was, it did not matter how many times he would lock her in the cupboard before leaving for work only to let her out in the evening, it did not matter how much his voice made the rest of us quake in our shoes; Sarah was always there to the rescue. She was the only one he could not control; and he hated it. Two years on Sarah would leave for the States to pursue her studies, and would grow into a self-made businesswoman the likes of which our family had never seen. My other siblings and I would follow suit, taking our mother with us. Our father would be...
I’M A VICTIM OF ASSAULT. AND I’M A MAN.

I’M A VICTIM OF ASSAULT. AND I’M A MAN.

“Don’t be shy like a new bride”, she said while she pushed me on her couch and tried to force herself on me. “Can I lose my virginity to you?” I fought her off, pushed her away and barely managed to walk out of her apartment. I wasn’t sure what had happened there. Nor did I know what to call it. All I knew is that she tried to do what I had never thought a Pakistani girl would. I should’ve seen it coming. Perhaps I should have paid attention to the signs, her body language, and not be foolish enough to agree to go to her apartment at midnight, despite her being older and a senior in college. Maybe it’s my naivety. I always gave her the respect that a college junior gives to a senior. Maybe I gave her the wrong impression. Maybe I still blame myself for everything. For a long time, I didn’t understand the seriousness of the incident. I downplayed the severity of it in my head. I even thought it was funny, because things like this don’t really happen to guys – at least that’s what I believed. Then, I met someone. She used to work with victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse. I told her my story and she was shocked. She was like a counselor who helped me clear my head about what had happened and how to deal with it. My interest in statistics on sexual assault on men increased and I looked it up online only to discover that the problem isn’t as rare as I had thought....
(WHEN MY RAPIST SHOWED UP IN) PEOPLE YOU MAY KNOW

(WHEN MY RAPIST SHOWED UP IN) PEOPLE YOU MAY KNOW

This video, dedicated to all survivors of sexual assault and abuse across the globe, is a cry for help by a victim of rape. An emotional poem written by Kevin Kantor, it is a heart-wrenching plea for help; for recognition of a crime most would turn away from; for justice. Kantor opens himself up to allow the world to witness the torment that he goes through every single day, knowing that out there is the man who destroyed everything he was in under a few minutes. That out there, the person whom he calls “THE WOLF”, is living a normal life; not bothered by the crime that he has committed, ‘smiling’ at the rest of the world as every day passes by. Whilst on the other side, Kantor lives in a perpetual state of torment and fear.   “Facebook informs me that we have three mutual friends.  Which is to say, that he is People You May Know. Which is to say that I am people you may know, and there are people that know, and people that don’t know.”                                                                                – Kevin Kantor This entrancing, yet excruciating poem, forces the listener and reader to face the horrifying fact that we all might know someone who is either a (potential) rapist/assaulter or a survivor of said assault. Our reluctance to face these facts, our hesitancy in standing up for the survivors...
TO THE ONE WHO DESTROYED MY SELF-ESTEEM: I THANK YOU

TO THE ONE WHO DESTROYED MY SELF-ESTEEM: I THANK YOU

It is my fault; always. It has been four years since we first met. I know everything about him, what he likes and what he doesn’t, how he wants his life to plan out… every single thing; and I always end up doing something to make him lose his faith in me. Why can’t I simply be the type of girl he so deserves? The thought ran through me like a train bursting at full speed past an empty abandoned house near the tracks; like a haunting presence deep in the nooks and crannies of its soul. It didn’t matter that we were sitting across from each other in a dimly lit restaurant amidst five other couples, all of whom were smiling warmly into each other’s eyes, completely oblivious to the silence that gripped our corner table; a stark contrast to the rest of the lovebirds flitting on their personal clouds of nine. We had been sitting there for close to an hour; and almost as soon as the server had whisked away with our order he started grilling me about my day. It was always the same routine, no matter how long a time had passed since we had last had an opportunity to be together. It always started with a polite question about how my day went; I always replied by saying it was all right before asking him about his day; he always ignored my question and instead asked me what exactly had been so good about my day, grilling me until my evasive answers were forced to turn into grinding, specific ones. These would then...
A Milestone Achieved: Pakistan’s Anti-Rape and Honor Crime Bills

A Milestone Achieved: Pakistan’s Anti-Rape and Honor Crime Bills

The Parliament of Pakistan in a joint-session of the National Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved the anti-honor killing and anti-rape bills moved by PPP Senator Faratullah Babar. The bills call to close the loopholes that previously allowed rapists and perpetrators of honor killing to get off on a light sentence. Under the new law of the Honor Crime Bill, a pardon granted by the victim’s family can spare the perpetrator from capital punishment, but not from a mandatory life sentence of twelve-and-a-half years. For the first time in the nearly seventy-year history of this country, perpetrators of honor killing and rape are threatened with harsh punishments, supported by an evidence based structure which will be hard to dismiss in court. The loophole that allowed “forgiveness” to be granted by the victim’s family, many times in exchange for blood money, was a major threat to the rights of women within the country; and was equally exploited. In the strictly conservative society of Pakistan, behaviors are carefully monitored. Any deviations from what is considered acceptable encounters between both genders, especially by women, can be considered as shameful and a threat to the normal running of an orderly society. As a result, hundreds of Pakistani women die at the hands of their relatives in the name of honor; sometimes punished by rape before being “rightfully” murdered. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an estimated 860 honor killings were committed between January 2012 and September 2015. The anti-rape bill criminalizes the rape of minors and the disabled, introducing a mandatory sentence of twenty-five-years for rape. The new provision relating to rape...