Some of the incidents below are actual incidents, and some are fiction.

Finally free, I can only look on helplessly,

As my sisters are sent one by one up here with me.

Every night the words and warnings are the same,

They tell us to dress modestly and remember my name.

I am Nirbhaya.

I walk out silently, praying that the darkness swallows me and that I cannot be seen by the evils that lurk around me. The stories they tell make my blood chill and boil at the same time.

19 August, 1947

Today a young girl came by my house. She could not have been older than eighteen. Her face and arms were covered in bruises, and her tattered yellow sari was wrapped around her frail little body. I could not take her in, they were suspicious of everyone these days. I was an old woman myself, if she had been a Muslim, they would have tortured me for giving her shelter.

So, I walked out and beckoned her over. The next half hour was one that will stay with me forever. Sitting on the mud steps of my small hut, she confided in me, in a broken voice. Her family had planned to flee to what was now Pakistan a few weeks ago, but she had been pushed off the train by the hanging crowd. At night, it had happened.

At the end of our conversation, I got to know that she was indeed a Muslim. Her name was Asifa.

Rape culture has been integrated into Indian culture for a long time. During the Partition of India and Pakistan, about 100,000 women were reportedly kidnapped and raped. Rape threats are sent by politicians. Marital rape is not a crime. Girls never feel safe.

17 January, 2018

An eight-year old minor girl was raped and murdered near the Kathua village in Jammu and Kashmir. Her name was also Asifa.

26 December, 2013

Dear Diary,

A few days ago we were watching TV when Papa switched to the news, and suddenly we all sat there stunned. The National Crime Records Bureau had recorded 24,923 rape cases within this year. I was so shocked. My little sister asked what rape was. I immediately replied- “You are not mature enough to understand.” But inwardly I was thinking, no girl is mature enough to understand why she would be ruined in such a way.

Of course, Ma told Nani, and when Nani came to stay with us for one week, she would not let me go anywhere. I kept telling her that nothing would happen, but in my heart, I knew that anything could.

After marriage, they told me it would be a fairytale,

Do I become an object from a human?

Do I lose the right to protect myself,

Just because he is a male?

                                       -A wife.

Let’s join hands to fight this fight, not for anybody else, but for ourselves.

– Aaliyah Banerjee, Round Rock High School, Texas

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