It’s 9 AM.
A thundering slap on her cheek sends her flying across the room as she lies on the floor, nursing her smarting skin with her trembling fingers. Standing on top of her, her spouse breathes heavily, a lit cigarette in one hand and a rolled belt in the other. She closes her eyes, letting the tears fall as she welcomes the pain for the sheer sake of the wedding ring strapped tightly on her finger.
Liberation from domestic abuse? Obviously not!
It’s 3 PM.
Her lower lip begins to quiver but she holds back the tears as the man standing in her way shakes his head. She watches her brothers run out to play under the warmth of the sunshine.
“But Father,” she sulks. “I want to go play too.”
Her mother watches solemnly from the kitchen, unable to help her daughter. Abusing his dominance and their silence, her father refuses and asks her to go work. Her longing eyes watch the tiny figures of her brothers running towards the enchanting waves and listen to the sounds of laughter that she can’t be a part of.
Disheartened, she makes her way into the kitchen.
Protection from discrimination? Surely not.
It’s 8 PM.
She glances at the silent street ahead, her eyes wary of the two men leaning against the shutters of a closed store, smoking. They’re bigger than she is and stronger than she’ll ever be. Clutching her purse tightly, she takes a deep breath and moves one step forward, her heart pounding in her chest. The only two sounds that can be heard as she gets closer to their hunched figures are the hurried clinking of her heels and the indefinable whispers of their voices. She can’t decide which is scarier but by now, she’s trembling. As she walks past them, quickening her pace with every step, she finally remembers to breathe. Her hammering heart calms down as she takes one last look behind her shoulder in case someone is following.
The dark is her enemy and she cannot fight it.
Freedom from fear? Absolutely not.
She screams in pain as the men drag her through the gravel into the dark alleyway. Her voice muffled from the sweaty hands grasped around her mouth, she struggles, knowing what’s going to happen to her. As the filthy fingernails claw into her skin, the endless torture begins, stripping her of her dignity and abandoning her with no fight left in her soul. By the time they leave, all she has is her tattered clothes that barely protect her broken heart.
Safety from rape? Definitely not.
So what exactly is her reason for celebrating Women’s day? Will 24 hours of recognition every year make up for the unending misery?
The day she takes self defense classes because she wants to be strong and not because she has to fight for survival.
The day she finally walks out on the people who make her suffer not because they’ve kicked her out but because she knows she can stand on her own two feet without their help.
The day she holds her head up high and walks past the men with confidence instead of cowering down to their physical and emotional dominance.
That is the day she shall celebrate.
But today, unfortunately, is not that day.