The only mistake one makes when harassed is that they choose to remain quiet about it. You always have a choice. All you have to do is keep yourself first.
A 22 Year Old Narrates Her Story
Maham* belonged to a broken family. Her parents got divorced when she was just 16 years old and refused to accept her. Her father’s friend was kind enough to adopt her. She was living a rather peaceful life with her new family who was loving and accommodating.
One day her adopted father’s younger brother, 32 years old and unmarried at that time came home. He started living with them. He loved Maham like all her other siblings. She assumed he was just trying to be nice to her by making her feel like one of their own.
One day he handed her a USB to download some movies. She did as she was told, “When I plugged the device in I saw it contained blue movies. I downloaded the other movies and returned the USB,” she tells me in a conversation.
Later, he actually asked her if she saw all the movies in the USB. She didn’t reply, “I learned to keep my head down”.
“One day he was in my room, I was in the kitchen and when I entered my room he was there sniffing my clothes, I asked what are you doing? He groped me and hugged me without my consent. I didn’t scream or utter a word about it to anyone,” Maham claims.
He started to pick and drop her from school, “He would make me sit on the passenger seat and place his hand on my lap. I would ignore it each time. One day, he suddenly kissed me and a class fellow passing by saw it,” she narrates.
Her uncle started to beat him, a mob gathered and he told everyone that the boy was teasing his ‘niece’, “Before my class fellow could even say anything, he was scolded by the crowd and told to go home”.
“He would touch me every chance he got,” Maham confesses.
This continued for three years, from the age of 16 to 19. Never did she say a word to anyone, nor did she try to refute, “I even thought of committing suicide. What good was my life anyway? Originally, my parents didn’t accept me. I was being harassed here… I had nowhere to go”.
“I felt obligated towards my new family, I didn’t want to disturb their lifestyle. My uncle knew that I couldn’t say anything and he was taking advantage of it.”
Maham’s life was not that miserable for long, but the scars would stick forever. It ended as abruptly as it started, “One day he was groping me in my house and my mom saw it. She slapped him and confronted him, he tried to get back at her and even tried to hit her”.
Her father was in the room upstairs and came immediately upon hearing the commotion, “My uncle didn’t feel a strain of embarrassment. He even tried to ridicule my mom, making claims in front of my father that my mother is characterless, but my papa being the good man, he didn’t believe a word he said. That man hasn’t stepped foot in our house ever since”.
They couldn’t file a case or talk about it again. Her extended family wasn’t happy with her adoption, “It is considered a taboo here,” she feels. If anything was said about the incident, who knows what would have happened. She has remained quite, just to open this once to share her story with us.
*Name changed to protect identity