Given I am a feminist and all, I am often asked whether today is important for me. Frankly, I am not a big fan. But it warrants a few words of solidarity with the people who inspired the origins of this day and those who continue to fight the good fight. So, here’s a short story.
A woman comes in from the snow. She is shivering, and so are her two small children – a boy, 12, small for his age, and a girl, 3. They are both unusually quiet. Cups of coffee and chocolate are offered and are accepted. The children are taken away to a playroom, and the intake process starts. The woman has streaks of grey in her hair, and her eyes are blood-shot. But what is very vivid about her are the bruises – along her jaw, her neck, her arm, her hands. Purple ripening everywhere.
The intake is slow, as it often is. She doesn’t want to be here. In fact, she’d like to be anywhere but here. But to get anywhere, she has to go through here. So, she sits and answers patiently. A question is asked – Have you ever been raped by your husband? She shakes her head and says – no. A few more questions. Then, she raises her head and asks – He once held a knife to my throat, threatened to kill me, and then had sex with me. Does that count?
What today represents is the recognition of the continued brutal force that certain social totalities such as sexism, casteism, racism, communalism, and nationalism continue to exert over us. What today represents is the reaffirmation of all those moments of oppression I have heard and seen, for which language is found wanting. For me, it is a moment to amplify the voice of someone, who after a hesitant pause, names a violation.