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Archives for : September2018

 What India’s first newspaper says about democracy

  • 22 September 2018
The front page of Hicky's Bengal Gazette, 28 April 1781Image copyrightUNIVERSITY OF HEIDELBERG
Image captionThe newspaper was named after its founder, James Augustus Hicky

India’s first newspaper, founded in 1780, held up a mirror to British rule in India. It can also teach us about how tyrants work and how an independent press can stop them, writes journalist and historian Andrew Otis.

Known as Hicky’s Bengal Gazette after its intrepid founder, James Augustus Hicky, the newspaper notoriously dogged the most powerful men in India.

It dug into their private lives and accused them of corruption, bribery and abuse of rights. Among many claims, it accused the then ruler of British India, Governor General Warren Hastings, of bribing the chief justice of India’s Supreme Court.

It alleged that Hastings and his top aides launched illegal wars of conquest, taxed the people without representation and suppressed freedom of speech.

The newspaper also reported on the lives of Europeans and the Indian poor – often news that its competitors would have ignored. It bonded with those at the lowest levels of colonial society, especially the soldiers who fought and died in the wars waged by the British East India Company.

At the height of its power, the Company controlled large parts of India with its own armed forces. But it was disbanded after Indian soldiers in its army revolted against the British in 1857.

The newspaper, in fact, called on the soldiers to mutiny, arguing that their throats were “devoted to the wild chimeras of a madman”, a reference to Hastings.

Image captionWarren Hastings was the then ruler of British India

But soon the criticisms became too much for the government to stand. Those in power sought to discredit those who held them accountable.

The East India Company funded a rival newspaper to control the narrative, while Hastings’ surrogates resorted to ad hominem attacks, calling the newspaper “insolent” and referring to its writers as “pitiful scoundrels”.

Finally, when one of its anonymous writers argued that the “people are no longer bound to obey” when the government no longer consults their welfare, the East India Company moved to shut it down.

Hastings repeatedly sued Hicky himself for libel. Hicky stood little chance in front of a bribed judiciary.

He was found guilty and, despite printing his newspaper from jail for another nine months, the Supreme Court issued a special order to seize his printing press, shuttering India’s first newspaper for good.

Eventually the allegations of abuse of power and rights made it back to England. Armed with reports from Hicky’s Bengal Gazette, the members of parliament launched an investigation.

This resulted in the recall and impeachment of both Hastings and the Chief Justice of India at the time.

The reports in Hicky’s Bengal Gazette, and later, in the British newspapers, were instrumental in building public pressure against corruption.

Image captionGeneral Warren Hastings’ impeachment trial in 1788

Like in the case of India’s first newspaper, authoritarian leaders today seek to suppress the press. The source of their power is to convince enough of the public to believe them, and not what they read in the press.

Politicians who want to be dictators are not new. But why are they so dangerous now?

They have new tools to sow divisions between citizens. Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other forms of social media have created “filter bubbles” in which people consume and share content they already agree with.

The result is that people across the world are increasingly divided into tribes as social media allows politicians to communicate directly with their citizens.

For instance, US President Donald Trump often lashes out at the news media with tweets, denigrating them as “fake news” and as “enemies of the people”.

Social media has also had a deadly effect in India, where a recent spate of mob lynchings were linked to child abduction rumours spreading over WhatsApp.

Online trolls in India have also backed a Hindu nationalist agenda. Activists and journalists in the country were arrested in August and, in the fallout, many on social media termed them “anti-national” and said they were against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led government.

Image captionThe Supreme Court was the centre of the British East India Company’s government

In such a tumultuous atmosphere, it is time for companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter to be accountable for their effect on society and to follow ethics guidelines that newspapers have followed for decades. Social media companies bear a responsibility to foster connections and dialogue – not division and hate.

Dictators such as Hastings have come and gone. But these men set the stage for the subjugation of India. They created the political structure upon which British rule began. Through them, a subcontinent that is home to hundreds of millions came to be ruled by a company of a couple of hundred men.

They gained legitimacy not only through the sword, but by controlling what others could write about them.

Now we have democratically elected politicians who wield social media in the same way, using it to degrade the value of a free press and pit citizens against each other.

The fight between Hastings and Hicky is not that different from the fight we face today. The only thing that has changed is the tools used to fight.

Andrew Otis is the author of Hicky’s Bengal Gazette: The Untold Story of India’s First Newspaper, published by Westland.

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Every third HC judge is ‘uncle’

At least 16 (34%) of the 47 judges in the Punjab and Haryana high court have kith and kin practising law at the same place. Either these relatives have private practice or the Punjab and Haryana governments have accommodated them in respective advocate general offices. Now the statement by 41st Chief Justice of India (CJI) Rajindra Mal Lodha, who took over on April 27, has triggered a debate about “uncle judges”.

PUNJAB Updated: May 03, 2014 09:31 IST

At least 16 (34%) of the 47 judges in the Punjab and Haryana high court have kith and kin practising law at the same place. Either these relatives have private practice or the Punjab and Haryana governments have accommodated them in respective advocate general offices. Now the statement by 41st Chief Justice of India (CJI) Rajindra Mal Lodha, who took over on April 27, has triggered a debate about “uncle judges”.

The CJI has said there is nothing the judges can do about it, and it is for the bar council to take pro-active action. The Bar Council of India as well as the bar councils of states such as Rajasthan and Bihar had passed resolutions to shift uncle judges to high courts outside. Council of India chairman Biri Singh Sinsinwar, when contacted, said: “The new CJI has not been briefed properly about all the facts. The council cannot be blamed, since it has passed a resolution already that when the advocates whose kin are practicing in the same high court are elevated as judges, they should be transferred to other high courts immediately. It is the Supreme Court and the Centre that are not implementing the resolution.”Bar Council of Punjab and Haryan a chairman Rakesh Gupta said the body could act only on complaints, which it had not received, so far. Asked if any resolution of the kind the other bar councils had passed was coming up, he replied: “I can’t comment as a chairman.”

On the issue of “uncle judges”, the Law Commission of India in its 230th report submitted to the union law ministry in August 2009 had mentioned that judges should not be appointed in the high courts where their kith and kin practised.

In May 2010, the-then chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana high cour t, Mukul Mudgal, had forwarded a list of 16 “uncle judges” to the union ministry of law and justice.

The names included justices Adarsh Kumar Goel (now chief justice of the Orissa high court); MM Kumar (chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir high court) ; Ashutosh Mohunt a (Andhra Pradesh high court); SK Mittal; Hemant Gupta; TPS Mann; Mahesh Grover; KC Puri; KS Ahluwalia; Sabina; MS Sullar; and now retired SD Anand, VK Sharma, Jora Singh, Gurdev Singh and Harbans Lal.

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Doctor Kafeel Khan, Arrested For “Disturbing Patient Treatment”, Released

Dr Kafeel Khan arrested for ruckus at Bahraich hospital: Police

Dr Kafeel Khan’s brother says he was arrested just before he was going to address media on deaths due to acute encephalitis syndrome in Bahraich.


Dr Kafeel Khan was released on orders of a magistrate hours after his arrest on Saturday allegedly for arguing with doctors and “disturbing” treatment being given to patients at the district hospital in Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh, police said.

Dr Khan is currently out on bail in a case related to death of infants at a state-run hospital in Gorakhpur last year.

ASP Ajay Pratap said he was arrested for arguing with doctors and “disturbing” treatment being given to patients at the district hospital in Bahraich and he was later released on orders of the magistrate.

Dr Khan left Bahraich limits Saturday night itself, he said.

INDIA Updated: Sep 23, 2018 10:40 IST

Shariq Rais Siddiqui
Shariq Rais Siddiqui
Hindustan Times, Bahraich
Dr Kafeel Khan,Bahraich hospital,BRD hospital
Dr Kafeel Khan speaks at a press conference in Lucknow.(PTI File Photo)

Bahraich: Paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan, who is out on bail in connection with the death of infants at the state-run BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur last year, was arrested along with two associates from the Bahraich district hospital on Saturday for allegedly creating nuisance, police said.

“Police received information that a person entered the hospital and disturbed treatment being given to the patients admitted there. He was also arguing with the doctors. The person was later arrested and introduced himself as Dr Kafeel Khan,” said Superintendent of Police Sabharaj Singh.

Dr Khan’s brother, Adeel Khan told HT over phone Sunday morning that the district administration and the police have not given any information about him and his associates’ location.

He had travelled from Gorakhpur and was arrested just before he was going to address media on deaths due to acute encephalitis syndrome in Bahraich, Adeel said.

As many as 75 children died in the past 50 days at the Bahraich district hospital, prompting the state government to transfer chief medical superintendent (CMS) Dr OP Pandey to Siddharthnagar and replace him with Dr DK Singh.

Following reports of the deaths at the district hospital, Dr Khan reached the hospital with his driver Suraj Pandey and assistant Mahipal Yadav, entered the ward and started enquiring from the patients, Adeel said.

He also questioned the medical facilities and the treatment being given to the children admitted at the district hospital. As the news spread that someone was enquiring and ‘disturbing’ services, the hospital’s paediatrician Dr KK Verma reached the spot and took Dr Khan to the chamber of the CMS while hospital authorities informed the police.

A police team arrived at the hospital and took Dr Khan and his associates into custody for creating nuisance at the hospital. The police also confiscated his car.

Additional superintendent of police (ASP), city, Ajay Pratap Dr Khan would be produced before a magistrate and further legal action would be taken against him after that, he said.

His brother had claimed Dr Khan was detained at the guest house of a sugar mill but police did not confirm the place of his detention.

Adeel said his brother had come to Bahraich to know about the deaths of children. The hospital administration had claimed the children died of a mysterious fever.

He said his brother felt the children died due to encephalitis. He accused the district administration of hatching a conspiracy against his brother.


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I am this #SundayReading

Strong show: Fans at a Chennai theatre cheer Rajinikanth in his role as a Dalit character in the film Kabali. Photo: K Pichumani   –  The Hindu

In a film industry that greatly shaped and reflected Tamil Nadu’s political landscape and caste equations, one vital missing component was that of the Dalit — among the most marginalised sections of society. In recent years, a growing band of directors is drastically changing the script to put this ‘outcaste’ front and centre

“If your problem is that I am progressing, then I will indeed progress.

“Iwill wear a coat and suit.

“Iwill cross my legs and sit with style and a flourish.

“Deal with it, or die.”

The year is 2016. The film is Kabali. The director, Pa Ranjith. The actor, Rajinikanth. And the character is Dalit.

Two years later, the Dalit is once against the protagonist in Tamil cinema. It is not just Kaala, a film released in June. Mari Selvaraj’s Pariyerum Perumal, produced by Ranjith, will be released on September 28.

More, more: Dalit director Mari Selvaraj’s Pariyerum Perumal will be released next week

And October 17 will mark the grand release of the Dhanush-starrer Vada Chennai, directed by Vetri Maaran. Both films revolve around Dalit themes.

Tamil cinema is unspooling a new genre of films, all directed by brilliant, mostly young filmmakers, that are filling theatres across the state and putting Dalits centre stage.

Cinema undoubtedly reflects a slice of society. But Tamil cinema, more than any other regional industry in India, has played a significant role in shaping the history and politics of Tamil Nadu. What began in the 1920s as a movement for social justice — primarily against Brahmin domination in the erstwhile Madras Presidency — soon transformed into the Dravidian movement, started by ‘Periyar’ EV Ramasamy. The ideology of Periyar’s organisation, Dravidar Kazhagam, and later its political arm, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), was taken to the masses through cinema, powered by mesmeric heroes and dialogue.

The MGR-Sivaji era

Tellingly, however, the Dalit caste did not figure in a major way in the movement. The anti-Brahminical struggle propelled the intermediate castes — those above the so-called lower castes but below the Brahmin and other upper castes — into positions of power. But the “outcastes” remained just that.

“The Dalit characters in the films of that era were poor, wretched souls who needed to be ‘rescued’ by the hero — whether it was MGR [Ramachandran] or Sivaji Ganesan,” says Pa Ranjith, referring to the two biggest stars of the time. “In those films, the aggressor was from the intermediate caste and the saviour too was of the same caste. The problem and the solution both came from the intermediate caste. The Dalit had no role in the film except as a figure of pity,” he adds.

The portrayal of Dalits was stereotypical — oppressed, but without a spark of rebellion. They wore very little clothing, with many in just a komanam or loincloth. A few wore veshtis (dhotis) but no shirts. And they were the darkest of the dark-skinned Tamilians in the films. In Kabali, Ranjith takes on this stereotyping with roaring derision. Warming up for a fight scene, Rajinikanth mouths these lines: “In Tamil films you have a character with a huge mole on his cheek, who twirls his moustache, wears a lungi… and as soon as Nambiar (the actor famous for his villain roles) shouts, ‘Eh, Kabali’, the character would bow low and say, ‘Yes, Master’… Did you think I am that kind of Kabali?” Then, gesturing toward himself in his spiffy suit — a nod to Dalit rights icon BR Ambedkar’s attire of choice, and today the Ambedkarite movement’s mark of pride and resistance — Rajini growls menacingly, “Kabali, da (I’m this Kabali)!”

Caste and Tamil cinema

During the 1980s and ’90s, caste began to appear as a divisive factor on the big screen. This was the time MGR and Sivaji had been replaced by the newer stars — Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. A host of other actors such as Vijaykanth, Mohan, Ramarajan and Bhagyaraj, too, entered the scene. Among the many feted directors of the time were K Balachander, P Bharathiraja and Mani Ratnam.

Balachander chose to show overpowering Brahmin heroes who “educated” the “others”, whereas Bharathiraja set his stories among the grassroots — his characters belonged to the Tamil village and the dominant non-Brahmin castes.

In his first film, 16 Vayadhinile (1977), his villages and the castes peopling them were ambiguous. After that, however, clearly delineated caste identities began to creep into his cinema, and the lines were no longer drawn in sand.

A native of Madurai, in southern TN, Bharathiraja helped groom a number of younger directors from his hometown. All of them went on to make films that centred around the life and politics of that region, where the Thevar caste is dominant.

Similarly, actor-director K Bhagyaraj introduced to the film world a host of cast members, crew and directors from his hometown, Coimbatore. Their films prominently featured the caste politics back home, where the Gounder caste is dominant.

Bharathiraja’s Mudhal Mariyadhai (1985) revolves around a Dalit girl (played by actor Radha), who loves an upper caste man (Sivaji Ganesan). Although he loves her too, he is unable to reciprocate her feelings as he is unhappily married. The villagers gossip about them. The outspoken Dalit girl, however, has to pay the price of “forbidden” love. She murders the film’s villain, as he was out to destroy Ganesan’s reputation, and goes to jail. By the time she is released, Ganesan is on his deathbed.

This theme of “forbidden” inter-caste love soon became the mainstay of many films, complete with swift retributions. In 1997, Cheran’sBharathi Kannammahas Kannamma (Meena), belonging to the Thevar caste, in love with Bharathi (Parthiban), a Dalit youth who works for her father.

Wages of love: Actors Meena and Parthiban in Bharathi Kannamma, a film about ‘forbidden’ inter-caste love and swift retribution   –  The Hindu Archives

As the lovers elope, they are hunted down by the furious Thevars. “We gave you the land to live on and you try to marry into our family. How can we keep quiet at this? Thevars are not cowards who will shed tears of anguish… We will kill them and drink their blood,” declares the girl’s father.

The film was not released in Madurai, over fears that it might incite violent caste clashes. The film shows Kannamma committing suicide, and the distraught Bharathi following suit by jumping into her funeral pyre. The repentant father gives bags of grain to Dalit families as penance for his wrongs.

Director Vetri Maaran points out that in most Tamil films, Dalit characters were shown as unquestioningly accepting their so-called place in society. And those who did question, ended up dead, he adds.

Dalit women, in particular, were poorly represented, he rues. When present at all in a film, their role was limited to being at the receiving end of derogatory remarks on their skin tone or eating habits or cleanliness.

Breath of fresh air

The recent clutch of Dalit-centric Tamil films is path-breaking in more ways than one. Besides the four-time National Award-winner Vetri Maaran and the commercially successful Ranjith, newer directors such as Gopi Nainar are making films that refuse to conform to caste codes. With its strong rural Dalit characters, Nainar’s Aramm (2017) makes a political statement about the powerful state’s indifference to the marginalised.

Gopi Nainar, director of Aramm, a film that has strong rural Dalit characters.

“As creative people, we need to have social awareness,” says Ranjith. “I am very happy that many directors… are creating this much-needed social awareness.”

Most of them happen to be from Chennai. Relatively well-to-do and socially aware, they are turning the prevailing narrative on its head. Ranjith and Mari Selvaraj are Dalits, and their films reflect their lived realities and ideology.

Pa Ranjith’s films reflect his lived realities and ideology as a Dalit man   –  The Hindu

Vetri Maaran’s films largely focus on social ills while hinting at the Dalit identity. His Visaranai (2015) was about police atrocity against a Dalit man.

Vetri Maaran, director of award-winning film Visaranai   –  The Hindu

“Very few films have been made with Dalit lifestyle as their central theme. There have been pro-Dalit films in the past, but it took nearly a hundred years to have someone like Ranjith make politically-correct Dalit films,” says Maaran.

Rise of Dalit activism

Ranjith had debuted with Attakatthiin 2012, and followed it up withMadras (2014) — both films dealt with urban and semi-urban Dalit life, and were critically acclaimed.

The significance, says Maaran, lies in the fact that Dalit stories are being told by Dalits. “These are not just films sympathetic to Dalits, but films on the lives and rights of the oppressed made by the oppressed themselves… which gives it legitimacy. This is a movement of Dalit liberation through films, in my opinion,” he adds.

Much before the rise of Dalit-themed films, Dalit literature had begun to storm the mainstream in the 1990s, thanks to fiery writers such as Ravikumar. Around the same time, Thol Thirumavalavan and his Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) party began to demand equal rights for Dalits, specifically the Paraiyar sub-caste. In southern TN, another Dalit sub-caste, the Pallars, began agitating for their rights. It was also a time of frequent caste clashes and violence.

But cinema remained impervious to Dalit concerns. Director RV Udayakumar’s superhit Chinna Gounder (1992) has the comic duo Goundamani and Senthil poking fun at the Dalit characters in the film. Senthil’s character even tricks a Dalit man of his veshti, leaving him squatting on the ground in just his loincloth. Goundamani’s character insults him further by deriding his looks.

In Vettri Kodi Kattu (2000), a character is shown cleaning toilets — a job traditionally forced on the Dalit community — in Dubai, and another character chides him saying, “Don’t come near me, you smell bad…” and, in what is meant to be humour, asks whether he “clean the toilets of camels”.

And where the Dalit narrative did manage to surface in a film, it was usually distorted. The 1997 film Aravindhan, directed by T Nagarajan, shows a radical Dalit leader killed for revolting against zamindars (landlords). When the zamindars refer to them as dogs, the Dalits stop working for them. This story was strongly reminiscent of the 1969 massacre at Keezhvenmani village, in Thanjavur district, where zamindars burnt the huts of Dalit workers, killing 42 of them. Except, in the reel version, the radical Dalit leader was gunned down by the police and his murder was avenged by a member of the upper caste.

A decade later, director Ameer’s Paruthiveeran showed a Thevar girl gang-raped and killed for daring to fall in love with a mixed-caste man.

Hate story: In Paruthiveeran, Priyamani and Karthi play lovers who defy caste barriers with tragic consequences

Tamil cinema certainly has no dearth of films that celebrate the common man and his struggle against oppression by the rich. Like MGR, Rajinikanth has donned the roles of a milkman, an auto driver and an unemployed villager, all of whom fight to alter the status quo. But it is only with director Ranjith that the superstar has spoken out as a Dalit in his cinematic outing.

“All actors with political aspirations have played roles where they are for the Dalits and the marginalised,” says Maaran. “But in their quest for box office numbers, all the top actors have also played roles that glorify one of the oppressive castes,” he adds.

Among the rare bursts of social awareness back then was director V Sekhar’s Onna Irukka Kathukkanum (1992), which shows a village headmaster (Sivakumar) teaching Dalit children to read and write, defying upper caste diktats against it. When one of the Dalit children is poisoned to death by dominant caste members, the Dalits rise against their oppression with renewed awareness.

“In the olden days, Dalits were stereotypically a Muniya or a Kabali,” smiles Ranjith. “In recent times, their portrayal has changed a little. They are still black-skinned, they have long hair, which is streaked with colour. They are ‘naagareegamaana rowdigal’ (civilised rowdies),” he says. In his own work, the stereotype of disgust is celebrated. For instance, in his film Kaala, black — the skin tone and dirt associated with Dalits — becomes the symbol of labour and revolt.

Black and white: Superstar Rajinikanth’s second outing as a Dalit character was in Kaala, a Ranjith film that was released in June this year. Photo: M Prabhu   –  The Hindu

A voiceover in the film intones: “Kaala na karuppu… kaalan… karikaalan… sanda pottu kaakuravan [Kaala (in Hindi) means black… kaalan or karikaalan (a celebrated king of the Chola dynasty)… is the warrior who protects].” The film’s finale is rousing — an uprising of Dalits. If Kabali sought to educate Dalits, Kaala teaches them to agitate. Ranjith’s next is likely to be the most fiery of his films yet.

Sandhya Ravishankar is an independent journalist based in Chennai

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 #SundayReading – Women’s Rights, Men’s Wrongs #Vaw

“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” – Indian Proverb.My story.

It happened very quickly.

He pinned me up against the wall, his hands choking me. I didn’t talk about it much, but I will now. It happened long ago, over thirty-years now. To be bluntly honest, I knew the minute I met him he was not right for me. I knew it. I felt it in my solar plexus – the core of my being, as my acupuncturist would say – dead smack center. I knew it. But I didn’t pay attention. I didn’t pay attention to a lot of things back then, mostly my own inner voice that often and reliably spoke the truth to me. “He is not right for you,” my inner voice said on more than one occasion. But I didn’t listen. He, like I, was a writer. Writers, in case most of you don’t know, fall within the working freelance category. This means, in part, that it’s not a very stable or reliable source of income or confidence. Back then, thirty-some-odd years ago, we – both he and I – were working in the film business, and the film business is a very competitive and heartbreaking business. It’s heartbreaking and heart shattering even if you’re successful. We collaborated on a couple of projects. We were even hired – as a writing team – for a couple of jobs. It was when he wasn’t working – when we weren’t working – I would see his dark side. He became belligerent, mean, and moody. He was a malcontent – moping, and stewing, and spewing. I would come over and find him reclining in his own misery – sitting in the dark. And while there were great flurries of work, there were also endless months when nothing seemed to generate.

Someone once told me that the film business teaches you how to love yourself. But what it doesn’t teach you is how to love someone else. “This is not right for you, he is not right for you,” my inner voice would tell me, loud and clear. I ignored it. I heard it, but I paid no attention. I believed, with every fiber in my being, that I could change him, help him — that I could save him from his demons and his misery. I also believed that if I were just a bit kinder, nicer, sweeter, more generous, more understanding, more… more… more… more … more, that he would stop being so unhappy, so miserable, so bitter.

It began with yelling and screaming, and I, of course, would scream back, and it would escalate from there. The breaking of things, the slamming of doors.

Out of guilt, I would return, apologizing for my bad behavior; always apologizing, an always begging for forgiveness. Women do that, you know. We apologize for other folks’ bad, awful, vile behavior. And along with apologizing, I would make a ton of excuses for him — he’s not working, he’s unhappy, he’s trying to find himself…oh, you know, Hollywood can be so cruel, so unforgiving.

And on top of apologizing and making excuses, I gave him all the power, and he took it gladly, using it to scare me, to keep me small, to destroy me.

It happened very quickly.

He pinned me against the wall, his hands choking me. It felt like an eternity. I managed to gather enough saliva and spit in his face. He slapped me hard. I pushed myself away from the wall. I looked into his eyes; they were dull and flat and hateful. There was a loud exchange of words, and he came after me again. I held my hand up and screamed, “If you touch me one more time…” Just as I don’t exactly recall what it was that made him lunge after me, I also don’t remember what it was that stopped him dead in his tracks. Maybe he saw himself in the full-length mirror leaning up against the wall that he had pinned me to. I got into my car and drove away. I never once looked in the rearview mirror. I drove to a friend’s house. A friend he didn’t know – my friend, not our friend. I had black and blue bruises that went around my neck right down to my clavicle. Cell phones were not popular back then, so he had no way of finding me, or getting in touch. I stayed with my friend for a few weeks. I tried covering the bruises with make-up, but it couldn’t cover up my shame. I was filled with unbelievable shame. The kind that makes you want to stay in bed, and hide from the world. His father had abused his mother. His grandfather had abused his grandmother. His brothers, all four of them, abused their girlfriends and wives. We watch, we learn. We repeat patterns. I walked away from him a bruised, scared, shameful girl and emerged – over much time with much therapy, much great support, and much love – a brave, fearless, courageous woman.

When I finally had the courage to tell this story years later, a former mutual writer friend of ours – a man – said, “Wow, you’re not describing the guy I know, the guy I know is funny and smart, a real cool guy. He’s a good guy, he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

I looked him straight in the eyes, and said, “Maybe not a fly, but certainly a woman.”

When we tell you our story, do not tell us we asked for it. Do not tell us no one will listen to us. Do not tell us we’re liars. Do not tell us God will punish us. Do not tell us we’re only saying this to get attention. Do not tell us to stop wearing provocative clothing. Do not tell us to keep silent or quiet. Do not tell us to move on, to push it under the rug. 

Do not tell us it did not happen. 

Believe us.

Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. Only 6 out of every 1000 perpetrators will end up in prison

amy ferris

author. writer. girl.

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