Sometime last week, a woman was stabbed multiple times in front of a coffee shop in broad daylight. When I heard this, my head immediately started spinning. I wanted details. I needed answers to the one million questions I immediately had. Why wasn’t anybody saying anything? Then the next day, a friend of mine messaged me on Facebook. He was livid. He had seen it, himself. He had seen the woman’s dead body being carried away from the pool of her own blood and had assumed it was an accident. He made such an assumption because of the way the murderer was being treated. People had seen this man stab this woman (who I believe is his wife or girlfriend) multiple times and nobody did anything? Then he stabbed himself once and they were trying to tend to his wounds?! Is this the world we live in? A world where we have become desensitized to violence against women?
A couple of days later, similar story: a man had killed a woman he was arguing with in front of a university, set her body on fire and fled the scene. Yes, you read that correctly. He killed her over an argument. Like who is she to dare argue with a man right? I read this news and I just sat down, silently screaming in my head. That could have been me. I am constantly arguing and speaking loudly, someone could have gotten angry and sliced my throat and silenced me forever. I think about these two women who I don’t know and now would never know,
I think of the one who was murdered in front of a coffee shop and I wonder if she loved coffee just like me, or if she favored tea like most of my friends. I wonder if she had a loud laugh like me or if it was a cute silent one that still lit up her face beautifully. I wondered if she had kids who were waiting at home for mummy and if she didn’t, was she dreaming of having some one day? Or maybe she didn’t want kids, maybe she had other dreams? How about her talents? Was she a writer and had stopped writing like me, planning to eventually start writing again at some point before she had her life taken from her? Oh God, what if she was actually a writer, maybe working on a book that we would never get to read now. Or an artist, or a doctor, helping to save lives but unable to save hers? Who was she? Who did she leave behind? How are they coping with this loss? And even worse, what hidden talents did she take with her to the grave?
She was a human being. Maybe her killer had beaten her before and begged her to take him back. Or had he pulled her hair once and she made excuses for him? What exactly had happened leading up to that moment where she was stabbed? Had she looked into the eyes of her killer, willing this nightmare to be that, just a terrible dream? Had her life actually flashed before her eyes, just like the movies show us? And if it had, what had she seen? Did she have regrets or was she happy to have lived her life the way she had?
And now she is just a part of the statistics.
I think about the one that was killed over an argument. I’m so proud of how argumentative I am but would I ever be able to have another argument without thinking of that woman who got killed?
Why are we silent whilst these happen? I remember a conversation I had with a friend. It went something like this –
Me: So if you know a guy was physically abusing your friend, you won’t say anything?
Her: No I won’t. Because they eventually make up and so I’d prefer to mind my business.
Me: What? Do you realize that she could one day die and you could have stopped it?
Her: my dear, if she’s not my sister, I mind my business oh.
I was shocked to say the least. So we look away, just because we are not directly related to the person. It’s unfortunate but the more I think about these two women, the more I realize it could have been me or any of my amazing friends or worse any of my sisters. The statistics are alarming and it could be any of us and we choose to be silent and look away? I will always be of the school of thought that “silence is approval”. When I heard of these deaths, I thought to myself, I need to get ready, there must be some kind of response and anger. People would be out in the streets, marching for women’s liberation, you know some kind of outrage. Alas, it’s almost one week later and nothing. Lips are sealed? And soon, we will forget this ever happened and we will carry on with our lives again. We will only probably remember them again when something similar happens and it would only be in passing. Until one day, it would be no longer news. It would no longer shock us to hear that a woman was killed in broad day light. That, like sexual harassment would become a norm.
Almost everyday, I see a couple arguing on the streets and the guy slaps the girl or shoves her roughly. Every once in a while, i hear a story of a girl beaten up and left half naked in the streets. Every other day, I experience sexual harassment in the streets and in public transportation. My friends have told me about potential employers who would whip out their penises and begin to masturbate in front of them before they give them a job. This is the society we live in. And there is still a deafening silence on the issue.
I am not sure how I would have reacted to the sight of a woman’s freshly murdered body being wheeled away. I honestly do not know what can possibly prepare me for a sight like that. But what I do know is that, this marks the end of my silence.