A Bengali girl in search of a voice
We all know about the inequality between men and women, and the crimes of honour which are practised to uphold that system within South Asian families. It doesn’t matter where these families live ‒ Asian women have been moving around in the world through various patterns of migration. They may have different religions but their family structures and experiences are all more or less the same. Family honour and pride, which are easily upset by a woman’s action, are not as easily disturbed by the actions of a man.
A List of Offences is the story of Daria, who was born into a family which operates the age-old system whereby the behaviour of daughters is tightly controlled. She is taught to be patient and quiet, and to do whatever she is asked to do. She must not do anything that might bring shame or dishonour on the family. Though Daria marries the man of her choice, within that marriage she suffers violence. She is expected to be at the beck and call not only of her husband but also of his parents, while her husband continues to treat her as a mindless thing. He and his family are aware that she can never go back to her parental family as a divorced woman, since that w bring shame upon the family. She is also economically dependent, so she has no choice but to endure the constant shame, abuse and coercion – all for the sake of keeping her family’s honour intact. She is silenced.
A List of Offences will give you not only a beautiful story but also a sense of the extent of the damage our society brings on itself by drawing this differentiating line between boys and girls. The sons grow up loved by their mothers, and yet when they grow older they think of women as less than themselves. It is I suppose a form of institutionalised abuse, and there is a horrific propensity for abused children to carry on the practice. One must pause and reflect... How could a loving society damage its sons and daughters in this way? When does tradition become abuse? It is a painful subject.
I have concentrated on one family, but a handful of similar families together constitute a society, and as the number of people grows in the world, the problem becomes bigger. It is time for us to take a stand. Every whisper in the name of freedom can become a statement.