Our stories are very different. Our roles, too. We both started on the same journey, with probably one goal in our minds – to get my trafficker arrested and punished. But you had other plans. While I was fighting a battle of trauma and pain in my heart, having to visit the very place where I was tortured, you were busy lecturing me on stringent patriarchal morals and what should be on a woman’s priority list.
“Why are you going forward with this case, despite being married? You tell the seniors that you don’t want to go ahead with the case. If your statement gets recorded, then there’s no turning back. We are women, we have families too. Think before you say anything,” was one of the most common things that you would tell me, to which I would calmly reply, “I will say exactly what I suffered there. Nothing more and nothing less.”
I was determined to fight my battle – against my trafficker, and an unlikely one against you. When I reached the place, I fearlessly directed the police around and even showed them the room where I was trapped. I fought my fears and told them about every bit of maltreatment I had suffered. But my show of courage did not affect you. And neither could your old-school thoughts impact me.
You couldn’t move my willpower, so you decided to scare me about my future, by telling me how what I was doing could threaten my life as a woman, my family will disown me, and how I might be deprived of a bright future. But guess what? All these weren’t enough to distract me from my mission.
Instead, things turned out differently. I communicated with the police in Hindi, gave them directions, and even offered to book a taxi so that you can enjoy your vacation with me – in all these. While you tried to have your work done by me, I retaliated, and you got your due from the senior officers. In everything, I proved why people like me deserve to wear that uniform of yours.
Being a policewoman, you should have shown me the support you were supposed to. Instead, you wanted me to keep quiet and suffer in silence, because according to you, that’s how a lady should be. But it was time for me to speak up, to make my voice heard for the ones who were quietly suffering like I was.
It is because of people like you that not just me, but so many other girls fail to report their stories of trauma and torture. It is because of women like you that so many of us mess up while giving their statement under Section 164. You manipulate us in such a way that the blame of the crime is pinned on us, and going forward with the case only make our lives a living hell. You tried this with me, but it didn’t work. I hope that there are more like me who fearlessly stand up and make their voices heard.
And yes, I am happy that you have shown willingness to work with my NGO after retirement. Do let me know when you’re ready.
(An active member of Bijoyini survivor leaders group in North 24 Parganas of West Bengal)
Featured image has been provided by the author.