“The meaning of Asifa in Urdu is pure, virtuous, spotless, upright…”
I was grazing my cattle in the green fields under the big, blue sky. It was the 10th of January, 2018. These hills and mountains, and the Lord above them, knew they were going to come for me. Even, the little bird on the tree knew it. Only, I was oblivious to the fact that this would be the last time the sunshine would kiss my arms. I was eight years old. I would have turned 9 very soon, but instead, I turned immortal. They call me Asifa, and this name is suffused in the air of Kashmir for eternity.
What else could an eight year old be thinking of?
For those who don’t know what this is all about; welcome to India, the land of nameless daughters. An eight years old girl, Asifa was abducted, drugged, raped and finally, murdered. 9 men are accused of having done this. It is very hard to believe that this kind of an incident has actually happened. Its soul-shatteringly painful to even think for a moment that a little child was abducted by policemen and priests, drugged at an age when she did not even know what pain is, raped for days when her vagina did not even menstruate, locked in a temple, and ultimately murdered, which was the only way she could have escaped to Him. Maybe she went to heaven, after all she lived in the “Paradise on Earth” for 8 years.
She was a Muslim, the accused are Hindus, posts say the government is silent, the opposition is holding candle marches all over the place and Asifa’s mother? In a dark and cold room, she is probably lamenting for having left her child alone, for even a second. She is probably asking Him, if He is omnipresent. She is probably never going to smile again!
The little kid is already in His lap. People across the nation are outraged at the horrific chain of events. The Indian girl, lady & woman are under a perpetual glare, now it is their turn to glare back. The question remains: who can guarantee that this is going to be the last Asifa?
Overnight social media has been flooded with rage and outbursts, poems and articles, hashtags and videos, but even Asifa knows that no one gives a damn. What have you done other than updating your Insta story and posts? Do you even realise that you are as much responsible for this rape culture as those 9 monsters in the skin of men? How? When you see a girl wearing a spaghetti top with denim shorts, what is the first thing that pops up in your mind? Character-flawed? What do you do when a girl wears a revealing top? Ogle? Stare? This “you” can be a boy or a girl. Rape, for God’s sake, is gender neutral!
When a girl chooses to walk half “naked” down the streets, it is her choice to. Millions of men walk naked on the streets everyday, but they are of course, safe. It is not a competition to show off one’s body, it is a question of individualism. If she wants to, she will, otherwise she will not. As simple as that! Who are you to set rules?
Even the slightest comment you make about a girl’s clothes, breasts, curves, body, has an impact on the entire society. Why are women objectified? Just because they are beautiful and men are not? Why do women objectify each other? Why do you gossip about the “hottest” girl in the class? Why do you stare at each other? All that side-talk that you have been participating in, has led to this unacceptable crime against Asifa. An eight years old? How, in the name of God, could you, the priest, have raped her inside a temple for days? Those blood curdling screams ravaging the temple walls for days, that stone deity a silent spectator? They say the person who sins and the person who watches, are equal sinners.
Are men responsible for rape? I do not think so. These monsters do not deserve to be called ‘men’. They are sick people, who are the products of a society that is dangling on the edges of sanity; a society where power and money can get you away with anything, a society blinded with communalism and greed. A society devoid of education.
How difficult is it to keep your hormones under check? How intoxicated with power are these officers? But then, who has chosen them ? We! Yes. So, who is responsible for all this mess? We! So, stop pointing fingers. When you point one finger, the other four are pointing at your direction.
Asifa is no longer amidst us. Did she want to live? Did she want to turn 9? Every kid wants to grow up. Did she even understand what had happened with her? Or was she waiting to ask her Ammi about it, after it would be over? When exactly did she realise that she would live no more? Thank God, she is not alive! Questions like these would have tormented every breath of hers. Death is better than a life filled with such questions.
Maybe in the course of time, she would have met a soulmate, a sister, a best friend or the love of her life, who would have told her what love truly feels like. But, he/she would have to stay awake every night to soothe her screams and nightmares. She would hardly have had a full night’s sleep.
Now that she is resting in an eternal slumber, we don’t have to worry about keeping her alive in the Intensive Care Units and curtained rooms with hidden identities. So, what I am asking each one of you to do is, make a small effort on your part and refrain from objectification of the XX chromosome holders. Do not ever objectify the goddesses you put up on pedestals to worship.
Educate the primal stone age men of the society. Tell them, that if He didn’t do anything, that doesn’t mean She will forgive them. Just try to influence mind-sets. If religion can do it, then why not education?
No one is perfect. But, everyone should try to be benevolent. And the current manner is surely not the way we build a better world to live in. Be more compassionate towards humanity, be humane! Only then, can we thrive in a world that will be much better than the one we have created.