By Tania Mirza:
“I am dead but nobody is searching for my murderer”
“Who and what do I defend … For this dead body?”
These are some of the sentences from a Persian movie that I watched recently called ‘Shhhh Girls Should Not Shout’.
This amazing movie reveals the enormity of the many hidden social problems of nations, such as the rape and abuse of young girls by men in countries that observe Sharia Law because men are protected. Why isn’t this behavior considered abnormal? When a man marries a little girl it is abuse.
Today, and unfortunately in the past, Southern Kurdistan has experienced terrifying problems… war, terrorism, economic and educational difficulties as well as mental health issues; the Government, members of Parliament and NGO’s have many problems to concentrate on, but issues that destroy the human spirit appear to be considered insignificant.
Many parents cannot escort their daughters to school and back and have to employ the services of a driver because of their employment obligations. These drivers take their daughters to school, with many eventually raping their passengers. After being raped by their drivers, girls are desperate to tell their mother the truth about why they no longer want to go to school … They convey to their mothers that they can’t bear the thought of being alone with the driver again … But their mothers aren’t willing to listen because girls should talk, not shout and should not disagree with anything …
I wonder how many cases there are like this in Kurdistan? In Kurdistan we allow our children to travel on foot alone, who knows exactly what happens to them on the street?
In the twenty first century we must ask ourselves such questions; when will the Ministry of Education provide safe transport to take our children to school? In Kurdistan it’s common for families to stay overnight in each other’s homes, often children and adults sleeping together in the same room. When will parents think about this situation and consider that it could be a problem?
The main character in the movie is a girl and she is stood before the court facing execution because she murdered a man who was attending her wedding. During the wedding she saw the man try to rape a young girl and, without thinking, she killed him … All she could think about was the life the girl would face as a rape victim. She knew that life would be over for this girl whose virginity would have been stolen, and that killing the man was better than for a young girl to feel like she was dying whilst being alive.
It is my belief that as adults we must re-educate ourselves in order to re-educate our children, to give them the confidence and trust, to enable them to feel they can speak to their parents honestly, without fear of the consequences, so that they don’t suffer tragically in silence. If we planned one day a week to have a family meal, where our children were allowed to speak of their problems with us without fear, and showed them that we are their friends as well as their parents, it could make a difference.
Many men and women live with the memory of rape during childhood, long after they have married. The effect of rape lives on and, as a result many experience extreme difficulties within their marriages … The problem with our society is that nobody is willing to listen to our children. When a child has to live with rape, they not only have to relive painful memories but they are also labeled as immoral, depraved and considered a wicked human being instead of a victim of a horrendous crime.
The girl in the movie is awoken every night due to constant nightmares. She wakes up screaming; she begs her mother to listen to her and says, “Mum please listen to me, I need to tell you something … Something about…” But her mother never allows her to talk. Because, as they say, “Girls should not talk and shout!”
Warm clothes, a cozy bed and hot bread are not enough for your children. Please review your sleeping arrangements when you have guests. By re-educating our children, we re-educate ourselves. I am sure that we have many young girls who have never dared to discuss their problems and, after marrying and during sex with their husbands, relive the memory of the men who raped them and so experience pain and shed tears instead of the joy of sex.
All because you didn’t let your daughter talk to you and you said, “Girls shouldn’t shout”, do you realize that your daughter has been dead for a long time whilst her murderer is still alive?
Tania Kurd Mirza is a lawyer and women’s rights activist