By-Mubina C I am a woman of color the one who is racially profiled and wrongfully convicted are my race, ethnicity, and faith such a threat? why do I wanting the same privilege as you makes you so upset? I am a woman of color who is attacked and falsely accused for starting a pandemic and putting the world in a troubled state if only they knew a much worse disease is hate I am a woman of color who doesn't get a callback or a job interview for this reason, my name does not sound white enough but I keep my head high and stay tough! I am a woman of color who suffers violent crimes if I have the freedom to wear whatever I want why am I viewed as oppressed when I choose to cover myself? Or a flaunter if I am provocatively dressed? I am a woman of color who is exoticized and hypersexualized in American films dominated by white men objectifying and degrading me again and again I am a woman of color who is excluded and having my dreams shattered like my voice never mattered everyone ignoring my troubles you see, white women are not the only ones with tears and struggles
BY- Mubina C
Stop disparaging other Muslim females in the name of modesty. At times individuals in our community are too quick to judge other Muslim sisters on how they follow Islam just because they see a hijab on their head. There are countless times I have scrolled through social media reading comments by non-hijabis and Muslim men on how a Muslimah should wear her hijab and act. Some passing rude remarks like, “if you can’t wear it right, take it off” on their photos.
As a Muslim woman who struggles with wearing the hijab herself, I want to make it clear that WEARING A HIJAB DOES NOT MAKE US PERFECT MUSLIMS! YES, WE SIN AND MAKE MISTAKES, WE DO PARTY (HALAL WAY), WE DO HAVE CRUSHES, WE DO HAVE GUY FRIENDS, WE HAVE DIFFERENT WAYS OF STYLING OUR HIJAB AND LIKE TO PAIR IT WITH SKINNY JEANS. We do the same things that our non-hijabi Muslimahs do. If you feel that you need to advice a Muslim woman on modesty it could be done privately not by publicly shaming them. If they don’t want to take you advice it is their choice and shouldn’t be forced on them.
But even if that makes us look like a not-so-perfect Muslim woman, we dare to roam around in a western country being the face of Islam. Some of you brothers and sisters are so quick to pass judgment but would not be able to walk a day in our shoes. If I had a dollar for every time I have been called a towelhead, terrorist, a F***** Arab, let’s say it would have helped a lot with my college tuition. I have not only been verbally abused but physically attacked just because I chose to cover myself.
Westerners look at us with piety because they think we are being oppressed. If that isn’t bad enough, we have our brothers and sisters belittling us because we don’t wear the hijab a certain way. I know many other hijabis have experienced the same thing. Yet, we still wear it with pride. Like many of you tell us, we could take it off, and life would become so much easier, but we are not quitters. Our sisters before us didn’t carry a long fight to wear the hijab in a western country just for us to quit. Remember, next time you criticize a hijabi on how she wears her hijab, know that she goes through hell to represent the Muslim community you are part of.
Talking about period has always been taboo, mainly in the 3rd world countries. Women for years have been trying to end the shame associated with it while fighting to make sanitary products affordable. Taboo surrounding menstruation excludes women and girls from many aspects of social and cultural life. It’s time we get rid of the period taboo and have an open conversation with both genders about menstruation and how the female reproductive system works.
I remembered when I was thirteen and had suddenly gotten my period on my trip to India. There was an all-women gathering at my friend’s home, and I asked her for a pad. She looked at me in surprise and pulled me to the side. She took out two pads from her closet, wrapped them in a plastic bag, and handed them to me. I didn’t understand what I did that made her feel embarrassed. Why didn’t she want any of the ladies to notice she was giving me a pad. I later asked my mom, who explained that girls in developing countries are not supposed to talk about their period, especially in public. Even if it’s the 21st century, people still believe that menstruating women are impure and dirty. Girls are made to feel ashamed about getting their period and associate it with something negative. That indicates many young girls are not taught safe, hygienic practices or even about the reproductive system due to social shame.
I didn’t realize what a vast taboo it was in India until my dad went to pray in a mosque in Bombay, and my mom and I had to stand outside because there wasn’t a women section to pray. Muslim women in India are told to offer prayer at home because it’s assumed to be better for them. They are also not allowed to enter a mosque when menstruating. That is why most mosques don’t have a separate room for ladies to pray their Salah. Hindu women are also asked not to enter the temple during menses.
Superstitions about periods around the world
Many of the elderly population in different countries believe that periods are a curse given to women and hold many superstitions. In India, women are not allowed in the kitchen of their own homes or touch anyone for several days until it passes. In places like Poland and Italy, menstruating women should not touch a flower or plant because it’s believed to die quicker. In Bolivia, you shouldn’t hold babies during the time of the month if you do it can cause them to get sick or die. As more people learn about the female reproductive system and myths, period superstitions are becoming a thing of the past.
How education is affected
Period taboo doesn’t just stop there. It also affects young girls’ education in India and other developing countries. About 23 million young girls drop out of school every year after their period begins due to the lack of awareness and the availability of appropriate menstrual hygiene products. Many young girls fear classmates would mock them if it stained their clothes. In H.S, teachers find it a delicate topic and avoid talking about it. When they try to discuss it with their students, there are looks of disgust and discomfort on their faces. In India, an H.S teacher stated, “we avoid talking about menstruation because we will then have to talk about sexual education. That is also a taboo topic that parents should discuss with their children, not us. If we talk about it, parents say we are trying to corrupt Indian culture.”
Countless women in India cannot afford sanitary napkins. Some females use old rags and cloths repeatedly, causing infections. There are also other countries like Kenya, where 65% of girls don’t have access to sanitary pads and tampons. Females suffering from period poverty resort to using leaves from trees, the insides of mattresses, socks, or even reusing dirty sanitary pads. Places in Nepal have huts away from home where women stay until their cycle is over.
What we could do to help
Many foundations have been created to educate women and men about menstruating and end period poverty. Your donation can help a young girl continue her education and bring change.
Written By- Mubina C
It was the Fall of 2017. I was on the F train going home after a long day at work. It was getting dark, and there weren’t many people in the subway car. After a few stops, the doors opened, and a blonde woman in her early 30’s walked in and sat down few seats away from me. She held this beautiful green handbag.
“Nice purse” I told her. “Thanks” she responded with a smile. We had a 40 minutes long conversation in which one of the questions I asked her was what she did for a living. “I am an escort” she told me. At that time, I had no idea what that was, and there was no WIFI on the train for me to search it up on google.
“what’s that?” I asked with a confused look on my face. “It’s when you get paid to spend time with someone at a social event.” she replied. I was surprised I never heard about people giving money to spend time with them. For a moment, I thought about quitting my retail job and becoming an escort myself. “That’s so cool! how much do you make, if you don’t mind me asking?” I know it was a personal question I don’t usually ask people, but this was the first time I learned such a job exists. “around $400-$700 per hour.” I was extremely shocked. After almost breaking every bone in my body and putting my mental health at risk, that was the amount I made in a one-week paycheck. I have made many friends and spent time with them, but the most I had gotten was a Starbucks coffee.
Before I could start asking her more questions, she cut me off by telling me that being an escort is somewhat like prostitution. At times escorts are paid to have sex with the person they are accompanying. She looked a little embarrassed and continued by saying, “I don’t tell people because they are likely to judge.” I understood what she was trying to say, and it was true. I asked her why she told me a “hijabi woman” wasn’t she afraid I might say something or judge her?
” Yeah. But you seem nice,” she responded. I thanked her and changed the topic before it could get more awkward. We started talking about college courses, and she informed me she had a degree in graphic design. I didn’t understand and had to question her why she worked as an escort after having a degree. She said it was a quick way to give her brother financial help, who was fighting cancer. Her brother was the only family she had. Her mother passed away when she was a teenager, and her father abandoned their family right after her brother was born. She did work as a graphic designer for a year or so. Unfortunately, most of her salary went into paying rent and bills. She made more money as an escort in NYC than two proper jobs and overtime.
She told me many of her childhood friends were Muslim. They would bring her Indian sweets during the month of Ramadan. Some of them she was still friends with and had them on Facebook. “you are a strong woman, and your brother is lucky to have a sister like you.” I assured her. After volunteering at a senior center with many cancer patients last summer, I wanted to help her. I wrote a list of organizations that give cancer individuals financial assistance and ways to get it. She was thankful and relieved that someone was willing to help and not pass judgment. Her stop came, and we said our goodbyes. That was the last time I saw her. When she left, I kept thinking about the struggles and offensive comments this woman must have been facing.
At times we are so quick to judge others we ignore to ask what’s the reason and how they are coping with that problem. Even though sex work is shunned and many reasons why that is. We are all human beings who require emotional support and respect. Someone’s life choices shouldn’t be the reason why they don’t deserve that. That day was the first time I had a conversation with a sex worker. Talking to her made me realize that society looks down on prostitution but not the people paying for it. What about the males who exploit and abuse these women? Shouldn’t they be held accountable?.
Sex work has been practiced since the beginning of time and is illegal in many countries. After society and religion came into existence, governing systems were designed. Whatever disturbs this system, such as prostitution, is criticized. The community believes that prostitutes sell their moral value for money and don’t hold dignity. After many decades, men have never been responsible for their sexual behavior, but women still are. In many cultures, a woman’s body is referred to as a temple and is supposed to guard it and prevent male sexual behavior.
Prostitution may be forced or a choice, but it is our responsibility as decent human beings to not judge and try to understand why and how they are in that profession. Try providing help and not ridicule them. If you feel someone is sex trafficked, don’t overlook it and reach out to authorities.
At least every woman has been told once in her life to “act like a lady” by her mother or older women in her family. It is a term used to control and discipline young girls during the years. Simply it means not to do anything that doesn’t look ladylike in front of society. Acting like a lady has to do with your etiquette. How a female should behave and act in the presence of others.
Where did the word “lady” come from?
The term lady was developed in the 19th century and was the equivalent of gentleman. It used to describe only women of high social class or status. The women during that time practiced acting more feminine and classy so suitors would give them attention. The word “lady” itself means strength and respect but has been misused to disparage women. When a girl is told to “act like a lady,” she is described as not equal and having less power than men. People who tell young girls to act feminine are basically saying girls can’t act a certain way or do things because of their gender. Gender stereotypes like this hold women back, making them believe they cannot succeed in life because of their sex. It causes as much harm as telling young boys to “man up” and not share their feelings.
The problem with “Boys will be Boys”
We have been using stereotypes throughout history to control one gender’s behavior and not the other’s. “Boys will be boys,” for example, has always been used to excuse poor behavior in males for years. The phrase developed in 1589 Britain originating from a Latin proverb, “children are children and do childish things.” however, like the term “lady” was misused to discredit the female gender, the word “children” was switched to “boys” to excuse the attitude and actions of men all ages. The idea that aggression and bad behavior are something boys are born with and expressing that behavior is normal does wrong. Unfortunately, “Boys will be boys” has been used to justify serious offenses like sexual assault (Steubenville 2012 Rape case). The phrase leads boys to assume that they are free to do as they please without facing the consequences because of their gender.
What can we do?
Gender stereotyping has been harmful and prevents both men and women from developing their personal and professional abilities. It lowers self-esteem leading to depression and anxiety. We should try to eliminate gender stereotypes and educate others about its damaging effects. Talk and train parents to avoid sexist behavior and raise their boys and girls the same way. Help our children understand stereotyping, and if they feel being treated differently because of their gender, they should address it.
Written by- Mubina C
It was 9 A.M on a Wednesday. I was drinking my morning tea scrolling through TikTok when I came across a heartbreaking video of a young Indian woman named Ayesha Banu recording her last few words before taking her life. The suicide was due to her husband’s domestic abuse, whom she married in 2018. She said her finals goodbyes with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes. She sounded as if she lost all hope in humanity and was fighting a battle she would never be able to win. If only people had reached out and shown her support, she might still have been alive, and her story would have been something else that her future generation of women could have learned from. Her final call was to her husband, who told her “she should kill herself and send him the video” rather than stopping her from taking such a harsh step. As tragic as this looks, this was not the first dowry death in India, and if people don’t change their mindsets, unfortunately, it won’t be the last. About 20 women die daily in India due to harassment over dowry, either by murder or made to commit suicide. From 2005 to 2019, the death amounted to more than 7.1 thousand. Many times arrests are not made due to the lack of evidence, and criminals walk freely to find their next dowry victim.
“Why take your life? Why not leave the abusive marriage?”
To answer this question, we must first understand how the dowry system came into existence. The dowry systems started a century before the partition of India and Pakistan. That is why the dowry problem resides not just in India but all South Asia. The rich business class handlers started by giving their property as inheritance to their sons, and some of that amount was given as a gift to their daughters. Dowry was seen as a way for the family to give women their share. The dowry system has always been complex and deep-rooted. During the Colonial rule, it was the only way to get married because the British had made the practice mandatory. As time went on, it became more of a demand from the groom’s side than a gift. A few of the reasons dowry is demanded 1. it has been going on for generations in the groom’s side of the family, and no one is willing to break the cycle due to family pressure 2. The groom’s parents have spent a lot on their son’s upbringing, from paying for his education to helping him get a house. After marriage, that luxury lifestyle will be shared by his wife. 3. The groom’s side needs to maintain a status in front of relatives and friends. The more educated and wealthy the groom, the more money he will demand, the more he will display.
The Dowry prevention act of 1961 made it illegal to demand and receive dowry in India and recommended imprisonment of a minimum of 5 years. Even if the groom’s side does not demand dowry, at times, the bride’s side pays it to show pride and a symbol of social status. Instead of downright asking for dowry, the groom’s family may ask for it by saying, “We don’t want dowry; you may give your daughter any gift you want.” and just like that, the burden of dowry is placed on the parents. So legally, it will no longer be dowry but a gift given by the bride’s parents to the couple. Even if the dowry system is a threatening reality, the girl’s parents have no choice but to give dowry due to the fear that no-one will marry their daughter if they don’t.
The majority of females that are victims of dowry find it a little easier to stay in an abusive marriage than to leave. Since divorce is still taboo in the South Asian community, divorced females are often looked down upon. One reason for that is in South Asian communities; family reputation is put first. South Asians have closely-knit communities, which have a huge influence, and their opinions matter. When a daughter gets divorced, she is believed to have shamed the family’s reputation and lost respect. It’s actually worse for women seeking divorce while having paid a huge dowry amount. The husband doesn’t want her unless she brings more dowry. The girl’s parents abandon her because they don’t want to hurt their family’s reputation. The girls’ parents often tell their daughters to stay in an abusive marriage because of the amount of dowry that is already given, which cannot be taken back. They don’t want to be humiliated in front of their community and go through a difficulty of financial struggle at the same time. This leaves the girl with no emotional and financial support.
What can be done to help fix this issue?
If you or someone you know is being harassed for dowry, you could reach out to many mutual and legal support groups that help. We need to educate our daughters and help them become financially independent. If you as a parent are saving for your daughter’s dowry and not investing in her education, you are putting a price tag on your child, and she will never be able to defend herself. Getting rid of the dowry system can help fix many other problems, such as female infanticide. If possible, it’s better to get a prenuptial agreement before marriage and always know your marital rights. In India, Hindu marriages don’t consist of a contract, unlike Muslims. However, a prenup is still governed by the Indian Contract Act and has as much sanctity as other contracts, oral or written. Parents also need to realize you can always fight to get your money back, but nothing will bring back your daughter once she is gone. Stop worrying about what others might think and support your daughter who needs it the most. It’s about time we break the toxic cycle of dowry and show love and respect to our women and not put a price on them.
By : Mubina C