Picture this. The street lights flicker into their awakening as the sun sets. The traffic writhes through the bottleneck on a street you are walking by, on your way home. You notice a girl sitting by the side of the pavement. She is as white as a sheet rag as she cradles herself. She looks helpless even when a man is squatted right in front of her as if he is consoling her, while he urges her to get into the car. You get lost in your own thoughts and turn away from this scene and keep walking till you hear something hit the ground with a thud behind you.
You automatically turn your head to the direction of the sound. You notice in horror of what is about to happen. It would seem that the girl has thrown the mobile phone (his or hers?) on the ground and the very next micro-second the man swings his whole limb and kicks her with such great force as if she is a stray dog. She caves in to the side, like a bag of bricks.
You then notice a taxi driver stop by the couple and it looks like he is about to intervene (thank heavens for making a handful of kind men in this world!), but by then you have already entered the building and the chapter is closed in your memory. Or is the chapter closed? You can’t help but think, was this girl trying to run away from the man and was prevented from doing so? And worse does this man live in your neighbourhood?
This is just an example of how abuse may transpire. As human beings, we face abuse in many shapes and forms, right from the time we pop out of our mother’s womb (some of us are traumatized when we were in our mother’s womb, for example if your mother was hit by a male figure, while she was carrying you). Some of us are starving orphans, others are not given love. Many are sexually abused by trustful elders.
When we go to school, we are faced with abuse on a different level. A strict school teacher who unnecessarily and publicly punishes you for smiling in class. It’s almost as if we graduate through various schools of abuse. At university, you are bullied for being different (I experienced this, as a third culture kid, when I returned to my home culture for my bachelor’s degree). I was told it was normal to be bullied by seniors and it was a test of my strength.
Then, we graduate into corporate life, marriage and prospects of a great life with the man of our dreams. At work, a jealous boss or colleague steals your laurels, puts you down or makes sexual advances. The other extreme is being in an abusive relationship where your life partner is a passive aggressive, a sociopath, emotionally unavailable or just plain abusive.
I had already written about the work that Half the Sky Movement are doing with transforming oppression to opportunity for women and here is the best time to plug my thoughts on abuse once again.What is a woman to do when she is in such a disempowering situation? Why is it so difficult to walk away? Thankfully with empowered women sharing their stories with the rest of us it is possible for the weak women amongst us to have hope, to step up. Where slavery, human trafficking and sexual abuse may have become the way of life of many women, it is a God given grace that Shelters right here in the UAE (such as EWA’A and DFWAC) for women and children who have been exposed to living less than half a life. That is why I made my mind to attend the International Business Womens’ Group IBWG networking luncheon, where I noted the views of mother-daugher Emirati duo which I wish to share with you.
Highlights of the speech by H.E. Sarah Shuhail, CEO, Ewa’a Shelters for victims of Human Trafficking
– Victims are usually from poor countries and they are received through police, hospitals, embassies.
– Worst forms of exploitation are slavery, work force abuse, fake work promises
– The Slogan of EWA’A is ‘Humanity is living with dignity’ which we hope that everyone will make it a way of life. Holistic perspective provide support for victims, gateway to a brighter future.
– Increase awareness amongst public on Human Trafficking.
The deeply engaging movie helped created awareness as to how human trafficking and fake work promises transpire.
Women’s Empowerment and Leadership
The talk was much more interactive, with Gulizar Jonian, who sits on the IBWG Board of Directors asking poignant questions to H.E. Noura Al Kaabi, CEO, twofour54. It revolved around creating opportunities to involve Emirati women, how to embrace one’s culture and respect other cultures despite differences. Her Excellency cited her own experiences of her childhood where her mother and father (who was in the military) were imposing role models who allowed her to see that it’s not the matter of feeling like working or not. For her, it would seem that education and learning about life started from home.
– Coaching and mentoring is available for the next generation of women leaders, if they have the will to answer that call and move forward to receiving it, despite challenges.
– The late His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan had created some innovative strategies to build Abu Dhabi into what it is now. It is a legacy that Abu Dhabi Emiratis are destined to follow, so that they can focus on serving a country from leadership, where they can advise and focus, and learn from each other.
– Her parting question was “Can women have it all?”
International Women’s Day may have passed, but everyday we are called to be the women who we were created to be, beyond the beatings, beyond the yellings, beyond the pure sexual abuse, beyond the slavery. For those that suffer miserable, it may be challenging but not impossible to break free.
Speaking of which, watch this video on hidden messages to help children know when they are abused, so that they can seek the required help (this is especially if children are in the company of abused elders).
If you could do one thing to improve your world by getting rid of human trafficking and dealing with abusers, what would it be? Share your comments in the comment box below.
Use of photos for this blog story:
Photos taken by IBWG Abu Dhabi are marked as such. View the other photos of the luncheon at their website.
Moving imagery taken by Katherine B. Topolniski is marked as such. Katherine is an inspired, free-spirited photographer living in Banff, Alberta Canada. Katherine is a lifestyle and portrait photographer available for personal and commercial commissions. She is an energetic story-teller, creative visionary, lover of love, humanity, art, culture and the planet. www.kbtphotography.ca