An inspirational young woman, at sixteen years old, finds the courage to speak-out about a taboo subject in her community, In breaking her silence, she starts a growing movement in Bangladesh ...
"Break The Silence, Raise The Voice, Save the Childhood"
I do believe a full recovery is quite impossible.
I was six years old.
I wish to forget, but I still remember …
My whole body is cold
I get stuck
Close my eyes
I cannot say anything
I can't stop him
I feel pain
I wish to cry loudly
Can't make a sound
In an instant I’m unholy
Weeping day after day
I couldn't share what happened with anyone, not even my parents.
He was my cousin. My big boy cousin; so obedient, so faithful, so loving to my family.
My big boy cousin came to the home often. When I saw his face, I hid mine. He was my bad dream, the cause of depression that hovered over me like a storm cloud that would last a decade.
I was sixteen years old.
Midnight, on a winter’s night. Six girl cousins gathered in the corner of our grandfather’s house. We whispered secrets we’d never dare share.
One cousin, shared a scary story about a child rape that happened in her village - a seven year old girl had been raped by a thirty year-old man. Together in our sacred sister circle, we spat out rage in angry words towards the rapist.
I lifted my head, I drew courage and I told my sisters my secret. They stared in silence. I was scared in silence. Perhaps they didn’t believe me.
Suddenly, one of my sisters shared that she had stopped visiting Aunt's house because our big boy cousin had tried to molest her too.
Then the rest of my sister's revealed their own secret one by one. Five among us six girl cousins confided that we had been abused by our same big boy cousin.
We cried tears, sharing our suffering. Our depression. Our years lost in silence.
One of our sisters cried out. She was abused by him several times.
She didn't cry for her distressing past. She cried for us. Had she raised her voice, she thought, then the rest of her cousins could have been warned. She felt responsible, because she was the most senior and had faced abuse first.
We couldn't sleep that night.
I was nineteen years old.
I read the book 'Amar Meyebela' (means childhood) written by Bengali Author, Taslima Nasreen.
Taslima tells the story of being abused sexually by her uncle.
Like Taslima, I felt my childhood had been stolen. No one had taught me about sex and safety. No one. This had to change.
There are children to save.
Taslima’s courage inspired me to stand up and speak, to raise my voice. “Break The Silence, Raise The Voice, Save the Childhood,” I shouted in my heart.
Soon everyone will hear, I told myself.
I was twenty-two years old.
It wouldn’t be easy to raise awareness about 'sex education' in a society where the word 'SEX' itself is taboo, and child abuses remain untold.
I knew it would be difficult, but not impossible. I launched the volunteer organisation, The 6th Sense to provide sex education for the children of Bangladesh.
We host workshops providing sex education for children aged five to ten years. We teach children to differentiate between ‘good touch and bad touch’. We teach them about their private body parts and how to react when someone touches areas that aren’t not meant to be touched. We conduct surveys with the children and provide free counselling for traumatized kids.
So far, we have completed workshops in twelve Primary Schools. We've reached over one thousand children. Of these children, 40% have been abused.
Next month we begin our new workshop 'Safe Adolescence' for Secondary Schools. We will keep going with our work. I call on our government to make sex education compulsory.
I am a girl and I will not be silenced.
Three months after launching my 6th Sense organisation, I revealed my cousin’s dirty secret to my parents. They were shocked and sorry for me, but according to the norms of our society, they prevented me taking legal steps against him. They feared I would lose my dignity in the community. This is the real face of our society - to blame the girl.
“Break The Silence, Raise The Voice, Save The Childhood,” I continue to shout.
My dream will be fulfilled when every child in Bangladesh is aware of their bodies and how to protect themselves from predators. Every child deserves a secure childhood.
I won't give up. I am ready to sacrifice even my life for my movement.
Show your support for Naorin
and the children of Bangladesh … ...
We are searching for donations to help spread our workshop outside, Rajshahi. All our volunteers are students, and they struggle to bear even their own transportation costs.
We will be thankful for your kind donations.
Please click here to link with me on Facebook to find out how you can help.
OR go direct to our website where you can contribute to our cause.
Naorin is an undergraduate student of B.Sc Honours at Rajshahi University. She is the Founder & President of 'The 6thSense' - A nonprofit organization.
She is a feminist writer at online portal 'Women Chapter' & 'Nari' (means Women).