“What kind of families do these girls come from?”
Yes, I want to know what kind of families you come from that you have the courage to single-handedly strike down not one but many monsters -- the rapists and their abettors, their powerful families, the police officers who refused to take your case, the hotel employees who ignored your cries for help, the Facebook trolls who think the length of a woman’s dress is an invitation to rape.
I want to know what you read growing up that you have the strength to cast aside the voices that told you that you must not talk about rape even if it happened to you.
I want to know so that I, too, may learn to have your courage and voice.
I will raze the ground when I hear someone call you a “victim” or that your lives have been ruined. You are survivors, you are warriors.
A woman’s life is not ruined because she has been raped, it is ruined because society measures her worth by her vagina.
A woman has every right to go to a party at 2pm or 2am and not be raped.
A woman has every right to wear a burkha or a bikini and not be stared at.
Just as she has every right to ride a bus and not have hands shoved down her dress.
Riding a bus doesn’t make you or me a “bad girl,” going to a party doesn’t make you or me a “bad girl” -- it makes us human. Rape and sexual assault are never, ever a woman’s fault.
Riding a bus doesn’t make you or me a ‘bad girl,’ going to a party doesn’t make you or me a ‘bad girl’ -- it makes us human. Rape and sexual assault are never, ever a woman’s fault
I wanted to apologise to you. This is not a battle you should have to fight.
You should not have to endure death threats and public shaming to demand justice that is due to you.
You should not have to tell your story again and again, and defend your character to be believed. Your privacy should not be violated as fodder for clickbait.
Our social and legal system has failed you. We have failed you. And yet you found it in your heart to fight to make the world a better place for us.
You said you wanted to speak up so that these rapists are stopped. So that they do not go on raping other girls and women.
Your courage is giving voice to millions of women and girls who are denied justice every day.
It gives hope to many others to come forward. It strikes fear into the hearts of those who think women are a piece of meat to be consumed.
Know that I am in awe of you because your actions have shaken the earth and our collective conscience.
Know that I am grateful to you because you fight a battle for all women and girls everywhere. Know that I will share your story not as a cautionary tale for my daughter, but as a tale of courage and the victory of truth over injustice.
Know that you are heroes.
Shammi S Quddus is a dual degree MBA and MPA/ID graduate student at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Kennedy School. She is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper of the Dhaka Hub.