While women across the world are fighting for equal rights, there are women in some communities who are still just fighting to live their life the way they want to.
Among them was a girl named Jasmine who belonged to an orthodox Muslim family in Mukkam, Kerala. She was literally living in a box where girls are seen as a liability. But her life story narrated via Humans of Bombay about courage and determination would inspire many women to break free of societal norms.
She talked about growing up in a patriarchal society where eating before men, never speaking about your likes and dislikes was all that was followed. But, if that wasn't enough, she was forcefully set up for marriage without her consent to a boy who had a cognitive disability. Not just that, her family got her married to the boy without her own presence.
What’s worse is that during the Nikaah, you don’t even need the bride to be present– my father could just simply ‘hand me over’ to the groom. Which is what happened. I’d been 18 years old for just 3 days. No one bothered to ask me what I wanted, what I thought– my fate was written without my consent, and at 18 I was bound to a man I didn’t know.
But Jasmine finally said enough is enough when she got married and her husband (who was a total stranger) tried to bed her. She couldn't go through with that so, she was sent back to her parents. Her family criticized and shamed her after that, but now she was adamant to get a divorce.
Since I refused to give in, with no other choice, the divorce was finalized after that meeting with village presidents. ‘Talaq, talaq, talaq,’ was written down on a piece of paper and that was the end of it. I lost my freedom with three words, and I found my freedom once again with just three words.
Things weren't as happy as she thought it would be after the divorce. She was considered as a burden by the family who didn't want her to get a job either. But even after getting a job, she was reminded of being a divorcee at every step and was made to meet boys to get married. However, she finally met a guy who seemed to accept her with all her flaws and got married to him happily. But little did she know the reality of her husband.
I happily attended my Nikaah– I was head over heels for him. So on the wedding night, I waited for him, bubbling with anticipation. When he entered the room, before I could even react, he slapped me and I fell to the floor. When I gathered my wits and asked him why he slapped me, he pulled me by my hair and said, ‘What else do you expect? You’re secondhand.
Her husband was literally the worst. He molested her inside the four walls of her room and acted like the perfect gentleman in front of the world.
I was the only one who was subjected to his evil side. On our ‘honeymoon’, I even caught him having sex with someone else. I lost all hope as the abuse continued– he loved to see people in pain. I lost weight and would always have bruises all over my body. My family thought I was happy. All the while, he’d constantly threaten to kill me, to chop me up into pieces or even fake my suicide. He had a clean image, so even if I told anyone, no one would believe me.
But the guy actually tried to kill her after she got pregnant. But again, she finally took a stand against her husband after her mother came to know about the guy's evils. Jasmine filed an FIR and even got him jailed all at the age of 22. But after the guy was out on bail, she made the decision to get her documents and start afresh.
I had to accept that it would take too long for him to be sentenced, but I could build a better future for myself. I made a deal with him– I’d withdraw my case if he gave back my gold and certificates, and sign the divorce papers. He agreed– I silenced my anger and moved on.
But again, her family came in her way and burned her passports and certificates. However, none of that stopped Jasmine, she struck a deal with her family and finally left her hometown in Kerala to start a new life. She got a new job, found her true self and finally realized that she was attracted to women.
I wanted to explore my sexual orientation further and joined a dating app. I went on several dates– I still remember, when I had sex with a woman for the first time, I couldn’t help but think, ‘Oh my god, I’m so gay!’ At first I thought I was bisexual, but that wasn’t the case– I identified as a lesbian. I found a piece of the puzzle I didn’t even know was missing.
There was no looking back after that. Jasmine got into bodybuilding, became huge on Instagram by sharing her transformation and even found a girlfriend she is in a live-in relationship with.
In the last 6 years, it seems like I’ve lived a lifetime. So take it from me, there is no knight in shining armor; there is no one coming to save us. We have to do it ourselves– no one can save you, but you.
Jasmine's many struggles makes us realize that no matter where you come from and what you want in life, you have to make an effort to make it happen. Sure, the journey might be hard, but the destination after that will be fruitful.
Jasmine's story is divided into 7 parts. You can read the full story on the HoB page.
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(1/7) “I belong to an orthodox Muslim family in Mukkam, Kerala; one where girls aren’t meant to have a voice & most days, aren’t even supposed to exist. That’s why my biological father left my mom when he found out she’d given birth to me, a girl. She remarried soon after–I lived with my mom, step father & 4 step siblings. My days were all the same–I’d go to school & do household chores after; I didn’t have many friends. But a certain lifestyle had to be followed, where men made all the decisions. They’d even eat before us–we were to serve them while they ate. For me, this was normal; it was all I knew. One day, when I got back home from school, there were 2 people sitting in the veranda. My mom asked me to serve them tea–I did as I was told. I remember, I was still in my uniform. They smiled when I served them & left soon after. That’s when mom said they’d come to see me–I was to be married to the boy. I was shocked–I wasn’t expecting it. Moreover, I knew there was something different about him. By chance, we’d studied autism that day & he ticked all the boxes. But my mom simply wrote it off saying he was shy. To her, it was enough he had all his limbs, no crooked teeth & didn’t drink–what more could a girl want? But I was freaking out–I did not want to get married. For the first time in my life, I said, ‘No,’ in a tone I’d never used before. But it fell on deaf ears–they fixed my marriage to him. I cried, pleaded & stayed hungry. All the while, mom’s emotional blackmail continued; she threatened to commit suicide. Apparently, calling off the wedding would bring ‘shame’ to the family as my sisters were yet to be married. My last resort was to talk to my to-be-husband. I called & begged him to call it off. His only reply was, ‘What are you wearing right now?’ I was at a loss for words–I had no out. What’s worse is that during the Nikaah, you don’t even need the bride to be present–my father could just ‘hand me over’ to the groom. Which is what happened. I’d been 18 for just 3 days. No one bothered to ask me what I wanted, what I thought–my fate was written without my consent & at 18 I was bound to a man I didn’t know.” #InternationalDayOfTheGirlChild