It's amazing how easy it is for us to ignore what is sometimes right in front of our eyes. Often, we get so conditioned to particular ways and accepted norms, that our senses become deadened and numbed to certain stimuli. Like spending too long in a cellar, our eyes grow accustomed to the gloom and dank surroundings, and before we know it we no longer ache for the fresh air and the sun upon our faces.
I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes I am like that too, when it comes to violence against women. I tell myself that the overwhelming data and statistics are wrong, and that the situation may be slightly blown out of proportion, and that maybe this doesn't happen to all women, but just to women who are 'unfortunate' enough to come across a crazed pervert. I'm ashamed that I entertain such thoughts for even the briefest of nanoseconds.
The fact is that it's hard for a man like me to understand that women live through the fear of harassment on a daily basis. That at every juncture or turn, they have to be constantly vigilant, constantly vary of their surroundings and the circumstances they are in. Driving late at night is not even an option; women don't even attempt it anymore. Walking home from work after dark is an unknown activity if you are a woman. Travelling by bus becomes an exercise in strategy: is the bus too full, too empty? Are there enough seats with women seated adjacent, and if not, are the men at least decent human beings in appearance? If I have to stand, is my bag long enough to cover my front and/or my rear, should the need arise?
These are just a few examples of the dangers every women face in our world; I could go on and on if I considered the work environment, home, family, women of different ages, etc. We've come to the point where women are raped in our neighbourhoods, and we can only shrug when the perpetrators claim she was a prostitute, as if that is somehow relevant to the brutal assault. We've come to the point where little girls are violated in ways so graphic that they are unable to continue living, while their supposed protectors are given a slap on the wrist and told sternly to not do it again. We've come to the point where even some women believe it is their right to be only second-class citizens, and that any woman who dares claim otherwise is a godless, westernized anarchist.
I hope to be a father one day, in the not too distant future. I don't know how much the world will change between then and now, but I refuse to believe that there may be a chance I bring a girl into this world that can only hope the odds are stacked in her favour for a normal life, that can only cross her innocent fingers and wish that she can have an equal chance at success, that can only sit and pray she goes through life as one of the few lucky individuals who gets away from the leering, bullying beast that is rape culture.
I refuse to believe that there may be a chance my daughter will go through her entire life looking over her shoulders and running away from dark corners.
So today, I choose to rise.
If you want to rise with me, click here to join the One Billion Rising campaign in Sri Lanka. Add your voice to those who choose to speak out. Stand united and join the demonstration on Feb 14th in Colombo.
After 3 years and many headless cover videos, I finally wrote my very first song over the weekend, and it was inspired by the One Billion Rising campaign. I was very nervous, this being my first foray into writing and composing, but I hope you enjoy this simple tune; hopefully, the first of many.
Many thanks to Nishan for working on this with me over the weekend. Stellar, cuz!