By Misha Rehman
June 26, 2018
Since the last few months, I have been watching women come up with disheartening stories of harassment. These women are from all over the world. I was waiting to see if one of the stories would end with the woman giving the man the shut up call he deserved, but that wait did not end. The problem is that we never teach our girls how to deal with these situations. The only thing we tell them is ‘stay quiet’.
#Metoo will not solve our problems. Girls need encouragement, not disappointment. With these kinds of activities, we are not going towards a solution. In fact, we are making things acceptable, normal and more casual. We are well aware of the problem of harassment from minor to extreme levels. Now we need to come up with some solution.
Here is one of my stories. I used word ‘stories’ because I have faced a number of evil minds. I always tried to kill the cockroach at the right time. It doesn’t mean I always fight with them. Keep in mind your body language is your first weapon and it works.
At 07:15 PM one day, I was coming back to my hostel from my university with my friend. My friend and I were walking down the road. There were parks on both sides, and there was only one street light. It was almost dark. Suddenly I noticed a boy wearing a shawl coming from one of the parks. I always keep myself well aware of my surroundings. But this time I asked my friend to be conscious. After making her aware of him, I started eating peanuts (that is a sign of putting the burden on my friend’s shoulder). That guy decently bypassed us,but after a few seconds, I saw my friend running. When I looked back, the guy was running towards me. It was a game of few seconds. The first thing that came to my mind was ‘to attack’. I could run because the hostel was just a few steps away, but I didn’t think of running for a single second. As he approached me, I started kicking him with my joggers. He was not ready for all this. So, after a few minutes, he ran away. I was so angry that I found myself calling him back, but he ran away without looking back. And this is how I dealt with my first attacker.
Being a university student and a hostelite, I have been travelling alone everywhere. I am well aware how boys stare, chase and comment. Some of them, in fact, the majority of them even don’t know that they are making a girl uncomfortable with their actions. That is a fact because no one has told them the difference between good and bad, what is fun and what is serious and might hurt others. Parents, teachers, and elders, all are doing so less in this regard.
From my experiences in life, I have learnt a few lessons and designed some rules needed to be adopted by the parents while nurturing their daughters.
Try not to buy a doll for your girl. We don’t bother, but we start spoiling our daughters from their childhoods. We give them a toy that looks like them. The girl starts seeing her image in a doll and tries to look like her. In her childhood, she plays with a doll, and when she becomes an adult, others play with her. Do you realise we buy dolls, kitchen sets, and doll houses for girls and a pistol, sword or some other violent toy for boys? Toys play an enormous role in personality building of a child. Try to buy some productive toys.
Try not to call your daughter a doll or a princess. She is not a doll; she is a human being. If it is necessary to show love you can use some other names, otherwise, call them with their beautiful real names.
Try not to tell them the stories of the princesses. Tell them the stories of all brave women around the globe. Recently a book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls has been introduced. The book is packed with 100 stories about the lives of extraordinary women from the past and the present. Have some examples from the lives of brave Muslim women who have been successful businesswomen, warriors and high achievers.
Try not to give her a makeup kit before she is 23. Your daughter is not a decoration piece. Instead of sending her to the parlour, send her to learn some self-defence skills. It is not wrong to have some makeup, but still, everything should have its own priority though.
Time to time keep telling her how brave she is and how she can deal with any situation. It is essential because in this era parents cannot stay with their daughter all the time, but the courage they give them will stay for the life. And this particular thing must come from the father.
Stop hiding them under your arms. If you think it is protection and love, then you are wrong. In fact, you are making her handicap and all the way dependent. Bring her up by keeping in mind that one day she has to face the evils and giants of society. Life is not a fairy-tale.
And this last one is for all the girls and women around the globe. Don’t ask men to stop harassing, looking, teasing or attacking us. We are begging for a long time. They will remain the same. Now the time has come to deal with them on their grounds.
Always keep in mind God has given everyone power, and someone who is negative can never be strong. So don’t be scared just because the one in front of you is a boy.
Be courageous and be ready to “Attack Back”.
Misha Rehman is an intern at Courting the Law, lawyer and lecturer at Muslim Law College, Gojra