My name is Amina; I am a twelve year old girl. This is the story of my life, short as it may be. Most of you don’t know me, some of you think you know me, others just ignore knowing me. The thing is, I am not just telling my story; it’s about all the female children like me. I am speaking out on behalf of the girls my age and older. What you don’t know is that I am not supposed to tell this story to you. My tradition, culture and people support the happenings in my place of dwelling. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t be an issue, unless it’s a secret and I am not supposed to tell (oops, in that case then ssshhhhh…..).
But you see, I don’t know any other world apart from the one I live in, and the things I see affect me and others too. The sad thing is that the trend continues and it has the same pattern. This pattern isn’t just peculiar to us; it’s an intricate thread work that has been laced into the entire quilt of our existence. I am not saying that there aren’t exceptions to the rule, I am just saying that it’s too common, outdated, out of style and season.
I know I am not supposed to complain since it is the way things have been since before I was born, and though it did not start with me, I want it to end with me. I know my fate; it’s inevitable, I have accepted it and go through with all that is accepted of me, putting on a brave smile as I am expected to be acceptant, submissive and even worse; happy about this.
I cry out not just for me, I cry out for the thousands, millions with no voice or too scared to speak, terrified of being heard, petrified of the repercussions of their voices being heard. So they keep silent, indeed silence is the best policy because women are seen and not heard.
Men first, children, possessions, cattle and then women. Just like a piece of cloth in the market place, we are available by the millions. Plenty and disposable. We are like properties owed first by our parents, then traded off into better streams of income. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not talking of child trafficking, or physical slavery, I am talking about the common practices in our communities which is far worse because it sinks deep and it’s lines are woven finely into our minds and we have fallen deep into the quick sand of its control that our minds are now slaves to it.
We are secure when we say nothing about it and our health and peace of mind is the better for it. I would not go as far as to say that the male child has it better, but I think it. After all a girl can only bring her family honor (and financial security) in only one way; Marriage.
I am a child, not a woman. Yet I have lost my childhood. That innocence that only a child can possess. Now I have become a woman and must put childish things away, after all my own child will arrive in a few months, yet I wonder daily what I would teach him or her when I myself I’m just beginning to learn.