Beautiful and accomplished Ruzwana Bashir, co-founder and CEO of peek.com, steps forward and gives a courageous account of her experience of sexual abuse as a child. She lifts the veil on issues of gender based violence and the taboos associated with this issue in many cultures.
As I read her article, I can only ask myself: in this age of enlightenment, how is it even still possible that people can be sexually abused in their homes by community members, while their loved ones turn a blind eye? How are we part of a global community where child survivors are silenced, shamed, and shunned by those entrusted with their care?
Helplessness in the face of such distressing topics guides us each towards easy exits when we should be addressing such issues head on.
It occurs to me that while we are all wont to read this article and shake our heads as we hear about this unfortunate story, as if it is not our story, we are all participants. If we do not make a conscious decision to have conversations about “unmentionable” topics such as sexual abuse we are turning the same blind eye as the families involved directly. As in many South Asian cultures, Indians in India and abroad are so horrified by the shame and confrontation involved in speaking openly about such things, that it all gets swept under the proverbial rug. Those who bring up uncomfortable topics are brushed off and labeled as disturbing the peace and unsettling others. They are encouraged to speak of more entertaining lighthearted subjects and to leave more difficult topics alone. Helplessness in the face of such distressing topics guides us each towards easy exits when we should be addressing such issues head on.
Ruzwana’s integrity and bravery should be the encouragement each of us needs to re-examine the issues that make us want to turn away. Is Ruzwana what you would expect of a survivor of sexual abuse – this beautiful, accomplished, intelligent CEO? Abuse can happen to any one of us regardless of gender, age or culture. Ruzwana is a success story that needs to be told to remind us all of the children being continually abused who may not have the resilience and opportunities to accomplish as much as Ruzawana has done.
How are we part of a global community where child survivors are silenced, shamed, and shunned by those entrusted with their care?
Join me in responding to another advocate in this area Meera Vijayann who encourages us to find your voice against gender based violence. In her TED talk on the subject, she stated: “What no one ever tells you is that true empowerment comes from giving yourself the permission to think and act. We fear the sound of our own voice for it means admission, but this is the thing that gives us the power to create change. Let us speak up. The truth is, the end to this problem begins with us.”
Be a part of the conversation!
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”- Martin Luther King, Jr.
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