Take a stand, Speak up!

How many times have we come across someone being wronged by someone. Yesterday? Today? Everyday?

What can I do, it is a norm in the society. Glad it didn’t happen to me though!

*sigh of relief*

Let us imagine, what if the one being wronged was you? Would you not want someone to side with you? Someone to at least say out loud what happened was wrong. Somebody?

The influx of dreadful news all over the media has somehow made us immune to a variety of atrocities in the society. I remember not being able to see the bloodshed and tears of oppressed people three years ago -I would get anxiety attacks. Now I can watch it all, hear it all and hardly shed a tear or two at the pain and suffering I witness. Glad it didn’t happen to me though, right? Should I be guilty about feeling so numb to it? I do at times, but what can I do alone?

Agreed. It is not something one can accomplish alone. The eradication of injustice is not a one-person task. It should be a collective effort. But that collective effort starts with one person -that ‘one’ person who dared to stand up and refused to comply. That ‘one’ person who spoke up, who stood for the truth. That ‘one’ person who could see he/she might be the only one treading on the path which nobody follows out of the fear of people who have declared themselves as gods on earth. After all they hold the power to make your life miserable, or even deprive you of the one you have.

Scary, right?

But what is scarier is the fact that these self-proclaimed gods on earth are not only the one’s holding reigns of the country, they are among us -our own relatives, siblings or even parents. Parents you say? How can parents harm their own children? *Astaghfirullah*

Welcome to the world of forced marriages.

Oh, forced marriage. *yawn*. I know it happens to the poor village girls. Honour killing etc, I know what you mean. Really sad. Parents can be really unfair. But hey, there are worse crimes and corruption in the society, all you could talk about was forced marriages. *bigger yawn*.

Well, to be honest, all these ‘little’ crimes in the society add up to form a big corrupt system. ‘Little’ is in parenthesis to mimic the significance of this act in our community. If you choose to stand against a ‘small’ cruel act, it will create a hollow in the ‘BIG’ dreadful transgression. And if each one of us keeps a stance, little by little, the BIG bubble will not be able to sustain with hollow insides.

I won’t go into details of how forced marriages are different from arranged marriages. You can conveniently google that up. All I am emphasizing upon at the moment is to speak up if you are being forced into a relationship you do not approve of, express your concerns and have a healthy conversation with your parents. If you are the parent, then please be understanding of your child’s needs, listen to the unspoken words, do not let those innate guilt feelings inside you die. Your child holds the ultimate decision -you know it. And I know you fear it. But please be mindful, even harmless sentences like ‘ baita hamari izzat ka khayal rakhna, no pressure, but please zara ehsas kerna hamari sacrifices ka’ are an undue psychological pressure that you are putting on them. And it is in no way justified to scare your child (who by the way is definitely an adult if you are considering him/her to be married).

I speak up today for the friends, acquaintances who consulted me in their tough times, and for those guys and girls who are suffering silently from this poisonous act. There are so many educated, apparently open-minded, even settled abroad families who force their children into unwanted marriages. I know you felt a bit guilty at the time of their nikkah ceremony, but the *sigh of relief* made all the worries go away. You saw that hurt in their eyes, but you chose to ignore in the name of ego and family status. You saw your child struggle and plunge into despair, but it was only for a few years and now the sight of your grandchildren makes it all worth it. Correct?

I fear the day when you and I shall be questioned for the acts we did in this world. No matter how ‘pure’ our intentions were regarding our children. It does not eliminate the fact that you took away their right to marry their own choice of spouse. I fear I would be questioned for the victims who approached me for help and I did not take a stand for them -on the very least speak up for them. There is so much I wish to say and do in support of these victims. And I will Insha’Allah, for the rest of my life, until this evil is there no more. Currently, I am in the process of writing a book on it. In the meantime, for those who understand Urdu, here is a poem I wrote regarding injustice in the society. It speaks my heart out at the moment. For anyone who is interested in an English translated version, please feel free to inbox me.

ہر نئ صبح یوں جلتی ہے
ہر رات ظلم میں ڈھلتی ہے

اس عاد ثمود کی دنیا میں
کب کسی کی کوئ چلتی ہے

جو حق کی آواز اٹھاے گا
وہ اسی جرمم میں مارا جاے گا

کسی زور آور کے دامن میں
اپنا سر نہ جو جھکاے گا

ان اونچے اونچے محلوں کی
ویرانی میں جو کرتے ہیں

اس ظلم کا بیاں جو سناے گا
وہ ظالم ہی کہلاے گا

سچ کا کون ساتھی ہے
اس عاد ثمود کی دنیا میں

جو کہے گا ہنسی اڑواے گا
اپنی نزروں میں گر جاے گا

شاید وہی سب ٹھیک ہیں
جو قوت زر زن رکھتے ہیں

شرفاء کا یہ دور نہیں
یہاں سب ایسے ہی چلتے ہیں

شاید اس مظلوم کے آنسؤ کا
خدا کسی دن بھرم رکھلے

اس عاد ثمود کی دنیا میں
کسی ایک کی صداء بلند رکھلے

۔۔۔۔۔ نداء راشد ۔۔۔۔۔۔

*Kindly do not copy/use any image or piece of writing without permission. 

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About nidarashidphotography

Nida Rashid is a female photographer based in twin cities of Pakistan
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