My brother hit me, but to my family I am the villain

Published: August 1, 2016
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“All crime has harsh effects on society. What distinguishes domestic violence is its hidden repetitive character and its immediate ripple effects on society, and in particular, on family life. It cuts across class, race, culture and geography, and is all the more pernicious because it is so often hidden and so frequently goes unpunished.” - Baloyi, 2000 PHOTO: REUTERS

When my brother hit me, I realised that Qandeel Baloch didn’t even have to become Qandeel Baloch for her brother to murder her; he would have done it anyway. I have realised that there are men out there who think they are born with the right to govern women, to humiliate them, to hit them, and if all of that is still not enough, to kill them.

They choose easy targets, women who live with them, their wives, their sisters, even their mothers. Because they know these women will forgive them, and believe in their fake apologies and tears. They won’t do this to the powerful and successful women they meet outside, because how can they show the world their inner animal?

Their biggest weapon is making the victim feel guilty. They will tell you it was your fault somehow that they yelled at you, you made them hit you, if only you hadn’t done so and so they wouldn’t have had to unleash the beast inside them. And you know why this works? Because we are told from the beginning that men are right, even when they are wrong. We are taught that we must accept the leadership of a man and live under his command or we will be doomed.

The problem of domestic violence doesn’t only exist in the east, it also happens in the west. The difference is that the women there are taught to fight for their rights; they don’t grow up thinking they are inferior just because they are female, they are taught to speak up against injustice. We, on the other hand, believe in giving second, third, fourth, countless chances to our sons. But our daughters are punished on the first offence, sometimes even without proof they are declared guilty and for them there is only one punishment—honour killing—because obviously a woman is always at fault and there is no redemption for her.

If you belong to the category of men above, you must think I did something to deserve it. All I did was ask my brother not to yell at his two-year-old daughter. I used to take pride in the fact that I grew up in a family where daughters enjoyed the same rights as sons, sometimes even more. But when my father asked me to forget what happened and not make a fuss so relatives won’t find out about it, I realised that it was all a farce. When it came to matters of justice, I, a daughter lost the battle.

Now the first sentence may have made you think I belong to a backward area of Pakistan. But that is not the case. Like my brother, I live in a city; I have a Master’s degree. My family watches English movies and English shows. But all the movies, education, and modernity cannot enlighten someone when they have pre-established this thought pattern in their minds, that they have a right over the ‘weak gender’. This has nothing to do with area, education, or living conditions and everything to do with the narcissistic thinking of men and our inability to rise up to them. That is why anyone can be the victim; you could be liberal or a fundamentalist. You could be guilty or you could be innocent. You could be a stay-at-home female or you could be a working woman. When the man in your family decides you have hurt his ego somehow, you will be punished. You may not know this yet (and may you never have to find out) but physical abuse doesn’t only hurt physically, the psychological effects last longer.

One of the reasons why I am sharing this story anonymously, even though I am the victim, is because I will become the ultimate villain in the eyes of my family if I raise my voice against this injustice. Because we are women, the oppressed gender, it’s our duty to endure the beatings and humiliation and not utter a word.

Anonymous 3

Anonymous 3

The author wishes to remain anonymous.

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