Because I Was Harmed

April 28, 2017
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I only recall small bits of what happened to me. My family was in India visiting relatives. My mother and aunt took me to a stranger’s apartment. The door opened. In front of us stood elderly women in sarees. They laughed, the atmosphere felt relaxed. I was the only little girl in the room. The next moment, I was on the ground. My dress lifted, my underwear pulled down. Something sharp cut me down there in a spot I thought was private. I cried. Soon, my mother gathered me in her lap and held me tight, soothing me, telling me it would be okay. The older women brought me a soda. I drank it eagerly.

In 2016, I finally found the courage to go in front of a news camera and share my story. The decision was not made lightly, and it took me nearly eight years to step forward. I was nervous about being labeled a victim when I wasn’t one. I dreaded the idea of my parents, whom I love dearly, being cast in a negative light. I worried that their fellow Dawoodi Bohras would become upset that their daughter aired the community’s secrets in public. In the end, I recognized that my fears were the same fears thousands of other Dawoodi Bohra women felt while sharing their story.

I wanted to break the sense of powerlessness that persists generation after generation.

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Image:┬áBy Amnon s (Amnon Shavit). – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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