What does life as a woman or girl look like in your country/city/town/village? Any issues/challenges/milestones?    

In India, the amount of freedom a woman has seems to differ by state. In my state, unlike most of the rest of India, the sex ratio is in favour of females. Almost all girls are educated - we boast a near 100% literacy rate after all. But then again, that just means that for us, women are supposed to work hard outside the house, and then come back and do all the housework as well. It doesn't matter that she might have a bigger salary than the man or works longer hours. Once a cook, always a cook. 

We have a strict rule as well - once it starts to get slightly dark outside, the women should be inside the house. We have to dress modestly, not loiter in the streets. The same parents who encourage me to go for competitions don't allow me to go get a haircut alone. 

And if you are a woman with opinions? LOL. Nope. Doesn't exist here. Also, don't bother falling in love. If you are even seen with a boy, you are married off to a stranger your parents choose. If you protest, emotional blackmail or torture follows. 

Acid attacks. Rape. Forced pregnancy. No matter what it is, our society likes to close its eyes and pretend it doesn't exist.

What would you like the world to know about YOU? What life experience, challenge or achievement do you want to share?    

Fortunately, I have never been denied much in my family because of my sex. The few moments that stand out are connected to the two instances of childhood abuse I had experienced. Though I had once gathered courage and talked to my parents about it, they told me to stop talking. They were more concerned with how openly I spoke of it, not hiding my face or using euphemisms, than with what had happened to me.

My father closed his ears with his hands and acted as if he was being victimized by my words. My mother kept giving excuses - you were a child. You might be remembering wrong. He might not have meant to do it. My parents took the unspoken words of my two abusers over my tears. My own parents preferred I suck it up because "boys will be boys" and "this happens to everyone". We still have one person over as a guest at times. My mother takes extra care to make sure I at least greet them.

Complete this sentence: "To be a girl or woman today, is to be..."    

To be a girl or woman today, is to be forever aware. Aware of the dangers around you. Aware of the weight of family virtue hidden specifically in between our legs. Aware of the gazes, the leers, the whistles and touches. Aware of the fact that someone, somewhere will always tell us "after all, you are just a woman". Aware that all paths lead to the kitchen. Aware that men think that this mess of a life is as much "equality" as we deserve.