As a child, I had the intense desire to change myself into a boy. Being a boy, I knew, could get the love and attention of my parents. It could get me the most expensive toys, fashionable clothes and shoes and, even better, the best of the food available in the house. I could go any distance to play in the largest playgrounds in the city. No one would stop me from doing anything. There would be a hundred and one aides waiting to deliver all my desires, as I would be the king of the world—I would be the son.
As I grew older, my suffering increased. Because I was a girl, I was scolded and sworn at. Huddling in a corner of a room, I would shed tears and muse over why I could not become a boy. Men cast a lusty look at my breasts, and grabbed them whenever they got a chance. When I began menstruating, they told me I was polluted—I was not allowed to do, even touch, anything. I lived in the fear of being grabbed, raped or strangled to death. Someone, anyone, might throw acid on my face, or burn me after pouring kerosene all over my body.
I could never walk about alone, carefree, on the streets, in the parks, sit on the banks of a river or stand for a while taking in the sea.
It is a man’s world. No creature is as insecure as a woman. The state and its laws, society and its codes, are not adequate for the security of any girl.
Some people might reply there is little security for men, too.
I agree, the lack of security threatens men as well. Nevertheless, the inadequacy of security faced by women is a million times more than what men face, because they were born as girls. Nowhere else in the animal kingdom, does the female species face the ignominy that the human world inflicts on its women.
This society teaches both men and women right from childhood that the male is a little more human than the female. Women are physically and mentally weak. They are not fit for emancipation. They cannot be aggressive. Repeatedly indoctrinated with such teaching, the self-confidence of women gets crushed. They do not unite, protest, oppose. Women not only remain silent against this anti-female society, there are women who actually hold it in high esteem and celebrate it.
Those men who do recognize there is social disparity between men and women think it is the woman’s problem, not theirs, and therefore, it is the responsibility of women alone to launch movements against their subversion.
But men do have the responsibility to help end gender disparity, if they seek minimal social welfare. A society is not healthy—and the question of calling it decent doesn’t even arise—if the tradition of torturing one human being by another continues.
Why should the responsibility of making society healthy be vested with women only, and not with men as well? Society belongs to both men and women! Does this mean the men do not want equality and equal rights? If that is truly desired, why don’t the powerful men at the helm root out this disparity?
Contemptible crimes are committed inside families—families which Indian society brags about so much.
Sexual molestation of infant girls continues unabated. A small girl child is not safe in the family of her own father, uncles, elder brothers and grandfathers.
A recent report by the Central government has revealed that 53% of Indian children, somehow or the other, are victims of sexual abuse. One-fifth of children become victims of severe sexual abuse. In 83% of the cases, close members of the family commit the abuse and, therefore, the affair is hushed up and the children remain in helpless obscurity.
West Bengal is at the top of the crime list. However, we hear all the time from both men and women that this state is the most progressive; women might be harassed in other states, but never in West Bengal.
The word “progressive” is used very widely in the case of West Bengal. We do not know what their reaction will be now after going through the Centre’s scrutiny in this report. They might say with a sneer that any sexual harassment that takes place would be in the rural areas and not in the cities. If told of an instance at Bagbazar, they may say at least it is in the north and not in the south of Kolkata! If an instance in Tollygunge in the south is cited, they will say: Let it happen in Tollygunge but it will not happen in Ballygunge.
I have rarely seen such indifferent people. When the house of a neighbour is burning, they will remain quiet till the time their own tails catch fire.
Little girls feel so insecure because of sexual abuse that 48.4% them are now asking why they were not born boys instead. Like me, they too wish to turn themselves into boys.
I dream of a day when all the women in the world have changed into men and no such thing as woman exists any more. May be, only then will there be no such thing as ‘masculine’.
Masculinity is only for grinding women. When there are no women in the world, whom are the men going to grind? They will fight among themselves and get killed. However, some among them will again ask for peace. They will start a movement for class struggle and equality. Men will be naturally lustful and pray to their god for the womb that at some auspicious moment bears a girl child.
Men will then dream how, after the birth of that girl, all the men in the world are raping her each moment for as long as she is alive. When that girl gives birth to another girl child, men will be raping her, too. But this masculine dream will never come true. Men will keep seeing this dream, till the time they die one after the other... and thus would end humanity.
After all, why should women have to survive tolerating the injustice done to them by men just to save humanity?
Let the history of humanity be the history of men’s scandal.
Taslima Nasreen is a writer from Bangladesh. She is based in Kolkata. This article was written in Bangla and translated by Ashoke Gupta.