Aida Zabidi
In my line of work, I sometimes come across cases where women are abused, belittled, harassed – these injustices come in many shapes and formed. 

I remember the shock I had when a patient casually told me about being raped by her brother while I was asking her routine questions regarding her sexual history. It was not the first time that I’d heard of incestual rape from a patient, but what struck me was how numb she seemed by it – how she’d run away from home because her mother had turned a blind eye to her plight, to avoid the shame of a daughter who’d been raped. 

I have heard stories of men bragging about their wives, and how easy it is to dupe them and leave them in the dark, or use pregnancy as a means to keep their wives subdued. I have seen men who complain about the hours they toil at work to bring food to the table, but never once considered the same toils their wives at home in maintaining the household and children. 

I have friends who have suffered abuse and harassment at the hands of their lovers or their colleagues, who suffer in silence in shame because they believe that the world cannot hear them, and because they believe that in some part, they deserved those behaviours. I know of those who have tried to get help, only to have been told about the unlikelihood of any retribution for these actions, only to have their fellow colleagues brush off these same fears as an overreaction. 

We all know of these injustices. 

We all might know of other women who suffer through this. 

And what do we do? What can I do? 

There is no right answer. 

But averting your eyes to these problems is not an answer. 

It is not an answer to blind and deafen yourselves every time a colleague makes a lewd remark, or to see suspicious bruises and marks on the limbs of another person. It is not okay to pretend you are minding your own business and that you’d rather not get involved. It is not okay to pretend that bad things don’t happen. 

Our silence is our crime. 

In the very least, acknowledge these problems. The burdens that these women bear, day in day out – trapped in a cycle that for whatever reason, they cannot escape. 

You may not be the saviour, but each and every one of us can be a catalyst to change. 

You can be aware that violence against women is not okay, and that it is important to acknowledge it, and talk about it, and that there is help out there. 

You can spread this message to those who will hear you. You can educate your sons, your fathers, your boyfriends and male friends, about the fine lines we all tread in the realms of acceptable behaviour – and how to deal with that, together. 

You can learn to listen, and to acknowledge that there are problems within our society, these ills that lie below the surface and simmer quietly as we go on with our daily lives. 

We can keep our eyes open and listen, and perhaps, in this acknowledgement, there will be more who will gather the courage to come forward and seek help. 

This is our responsibility.
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