Remember that time when someone touched you inappropriately? In the local marketplace, in that crowded concert, on the bus or any other mode of transport, in your school, at a family function, or at any possible place? I do. I remember being in a crowded market on a Sunday excited about things I was going to shop when someone tried to touch me and I just froze. It happened years back but the trauma that I felt then still haunts me to this date. You’re lucky(and I hope you always will remain lucky) if that hasn’t happened to you ever. Sadly, almost all women I’ve known have faced this trauma and this is just one tiny incident in our lives which has left scars in our mind and in our heart.

Now imagine the plight of this young 8-year-old girl, imagine the plight of the girl on the moving bus, the 8-month-old (yes, 8 fucking months), the ones who are thrown into the swamp that human trafficking and prostitution is. If one incident can scar us for the rest of our lives, just imagine what life would’ve been for them. There are millions of women all around the globe living in this hellhole, whose bodies are considered no more than flesh that satiates lust. Consent? Well, that’s just a word that exists but holds no meaning for most people.  

But what I’m saying here is old news, right? We’ve all heard it before. We’ve seen numerous videos, read a thousand articles, seen it on the daily news then why am I writing about this? I’m writing this because I have a request to make. I request you to speak up. Every time you feel that something wrong has happened or is about to happen, SPEAK UP. You’ll only regret it later if you don’t. I know it’s difficult, I know you feel ashamed and scared but honey, if you don’t stand up for yourself then who else will? You need to speak up for yourself, for the women in your life, for people you love regardless of their gender. You need to speak up about issues because that is going to help in some way or the other. You need to speak up for people who are struggling. You need to speak up because humanity needs it. You need to speak up because there are hundreds and thousands of these incidents that happen and never even get recorded or talked about. You need to speak up because it makes a difference and if we all speak up, we can bring change. I know that it won’t happen overnight but if we’re all together standing up for a cause, it will. I have hope and faith in us who believe in humanity and who are not afraid to ask for their rights, for better living conditions, for basic human respect.

It can start as small as talking to your close circle, raising your voice against what’s wrong even if that means that you’re calling out your parents for saying or believing in something that’s completely flawed. I’m sure it’ll be difficult at first but trust me, it’ll work. Speak up when you can see things going wrong, ask questions, demand answers where it’s required. Speak up for these poor souls that have suffered such heinous crimes, speak up for the ones who are still suffering, speak up for your loved ones, speak up for your own self. Speak up because it makes a difference.