MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope your day is filled with lots of love and joy!
Last night we stayed in Himatnagar and saw a group of students standing within a circle of lit candles protesting India’s current criminal laws. This uproar was caused after a 23 year old woman was gang raped on a moving bus last Sunday in Dehli. Every day for the past week, these protesters have been standing in the same spot. Their protests aren’t being unheard, for thousands of people all over India, especially women are protesting women equality and the criminal charges for rape. It isn’t just in Dehli, but all over India that safety is an issue and protesters want rape to be charged as a capital crime.
I’ve always suggested going to India alone, telling my parents that I can take care of myself. However, without hesitation, my mom comes with me fearing for my safety. The amount of rape cases in India from 1971 to 2011 have jumped almost 875%. Young women feel unsafe, constantly fearing sexual assaults wherever they go. Shweta Prakash and her friends were stalked by a group of men during her first year of college in Delhi Now, 20, she says, “It actually freaks you out when people do such things to you ... eye-teasing, passing lewd comments and stalking you. They literally rape you with their eyes” (CNN). For girls in India safety is an issue as well as getting an education.
During my time in India it has been extremely difficult finding a family in need that is willing to send their daughter to school. Their main concern is finding a husband for their daughter and getting her married as soon as she is in her teens. When I talked to my dad on the phone he said, “You need to understand that parents can’t risk the safety of their daughters. They try to get her married as soon as possible, so if anything happens to her everyone will already know that she was married and living with her in-laws when it happened. Society won’t blame her parents if she is married. If she’s walking from the farm by herself and gets raped nobody will want to marry her.”
From the beginning I’ve always thought by educating a girl I would be able to break the endless cycle of poverty. By doing this, she would be able to marry someone else who is also educated. It seemed a lot easier than it really is. Girls aren't just ready to go to school. Earlier this morning I started talking to Daksha (she does chores around our house). I asked her, “Don’t you want to go to school?” This isn’t the first time I've asked her; I’ve asked her almost every other day that I’ve been in India. Her response is always the same: a blank stare. This time, instead of leaving it at that I asked her why she doesn’t go to school. As she was washing the floors with a rag she pointed all around and said “look at all of this work still left to do”. I talked to her some more and realized that even though she’s not willing to go, I can still talk to her about it. The only thing I can do is plant the thought in her mind and hope it grows.
While some girls don’t want an education, others are fighting for it. In October, one young Pakistani activist was shot in the head for speaking out against the Taliban. At just fifteen years old, Malala Yousafzai is empowering young women worldwide to go to school. Malala (below) blogged about for the BBC about being a girl under the Taliban and has spoken up against Taliban’s efforts to prevent girls from gaining an education.
"Where in the Quran does it say that girls should not be educated?" she asked last year. "I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up."
In hopes of silencing her, the Taliban has only intensified her voice.