When “no” is not enough

“You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage.” – Alex Elle

Video made in Tunisia, on the basis of the following story:

Gender Based Violence 

(Female, 17 – Albania, high school student)
“Being a woman doesn’t necessarily mean to be silent. We can’t afford to be silent; otherwise, the harassment and attacks will not stop.”

There is this particular book that has affected me profoundly. It is a novel, written in 1936 by a male author, titled “If I were a boy”. It describes the struggle of a 14-year-old girl to survive and adapt in the Albanian patriarchal society of the time. She was an orphan from her mother, raised and brutally abused by her stepmother, with a very absent father. She was in love, and she had dreams for the future, as every young person. However, her biggest dream was to be a boy, as the only way of either happiness or survival. In the end, she dies of tuberculosis.

The sad part is that I recognized part of myself in that girl that lived almost 100 years ago. There are days in my life when I have silently wished to be a boy. I live in a small village. I have to travel by car or bus to go to school, situated in the town. There is only one high school for all the surrounding villages. I leave the house, telling myself to be careful. I come back home, reminding myself to be careful.

One in three women has experienced physical or sexual violence. When I read about this, the first thing that came to my mind was, apparently, I am one of the two lucky ones, so far. Men and boys are victims of violence as well; I am aware of that. But I wonder whether they ever tell themselves while leaving the house to be careful? Does their mother or father advise them to be cautious as they do with me every single day? I wonder whether my constant fear that something might happen behind a corner or at a turn is as much of a continuous in a boy’s daily life.

What does it mean to be careful? Doesn’t it feel that the fault for being attacked is mine because I wasn’t careful enough? How painful might be that a girl today wishes as much to be a boy, as the girl who lived almost 100 years ago?