In a healing relationship with the wounded, we are witnesses; we are bearers of witnessing those moments when another reveals their vulnerability, and when we recognise such vulnerability then we find the unanswered voices. The foundation of any healing is when we close our eyes without losing the perception of how the other— how you— are suffering.
When we hear stories from the mouths of the women who bear the words every day of their lives about violence, there is also a profound silence of the dead— the voice of the fallen woman. The fallen woman has not disappeared, nor vanished, but she has been taken; she is a stolen breath, a stolen heart, a stolen soul, and now, now she is a stolen story.
The fallen woman, when she lived, lived between life and death. Before she fell, she lived her narrative—she embodied every word. Her strength carried her, she became the body that was carved onto her life and shadowed by society. And, the fallen woman, she stood before she fell. She told. She told the story of her silence. This story travelled from her and her silence no longer shrouded her or protected her. Her silence fell from her, and then she too fell.
Who pushed her?
The society that pushed her is a society that is living amongst us. This is a society that is closed to receiving reflections of violence. This is a society that is open, only, to the propagation of violence.
Disclosure—a story—threatens the life, the survival, of the hands that act body against body. The silence protects, but the silence scars. The silence is the wound; the wound in life and the wound for death.
How can we take away such power in a cycle of twirling double-edged swords? To tell and be killed, and not to tell yet live with silence; a woman’s wound, is to create the scene for yet another woman to be killed. The silence is society’s survival. Society can continue to kill through the protection of silence.
In Pakistan, are the 1601 women killed – 217 killed after being raped – in 2013, according to data provided by the Madadgar National Helpline, successfully silenced now? If a woman does not have a voice when she is begging for her life to be spared, how can she speak through death?
It is not her words that penetrate the thick fog of society’s blanket denial, but the body laying heavy on the ground that weighs the land with the burden of blood. The blood is clearer than the voice.
What if all the women pushed to their graves stood up again? Would their footsteps be heard? Or would there just be a loud noise; an infinite loud noise?
Until society closes the chapter of honour, there will not be able to be arms of compassion.
The narrative discourse of women such Zainaab Noor, Samia Imran, and Farzana Parveen does not reflect any insight of empathy of suffering. Instead, their deaths are marked as an act to fix a perceived wrong.
There are no voices. Not even from the women who are starting to scream the loudest. Malala could not talk in her own society. She had to flee then scream.
There should be a society where there are no words required, and where the dialogue between victim and perpetrator is not one where shame falls as a burden on the wounded. Instead we should create a silence of listening, a silence of prayer, a silence of seeing—seeing the blood.
Only when the blood is seen to be seeping, to be leaving a life, can there be healing and solidarity. Otherwise, silence is empty. There is no empathy in a story that is suffering. The woman falls and she is not seen. Her silence is both deaf and blind.
Until empathy rises through our voices, the violence will continue. The violence is in the society, which the brutal truth that must be awakened to.