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Protecting Your Power
By Deniz Ataman
Reyhaneh Jabbari, an Iranian woman, was hanged on Saturday for murdering the man who raped her. As I was researching this horrifying event, I couldn't help but look past the man-made laws humans are expected to follow, and instead focus on whether this was the right karmic action. Was it right for Jabbari to kill this man who robbed her of her dignity and power? And further, how do you reclaim your power after it has been stolen violently from you?
Jabbari's story is not an uncommon one. Rape victims, who are primarily women, often remain silent. Along with the heavy weight of guilt, shame, fear, sorrow, and anger that a victim must battle with every day, how does one heal the scar that has to be hidden under more than just clothes?
The new generation of women, such as Emma Watson and Warsan Shire, are celebrating equal gender roles and encouraging the freedom to be a human being. Despite our biological differences, gender is subjective. We wear what we want to show, yet harbor both masculine and feminine traits. As humans, we hide what is considered "weak," which is typically anything in the feminine Gender Venn Diagram. But what happens when you hide the empty space from where it is stolen?
Can our power be stolen? Or is it a mental game? A trauma such as as rape requires more than just mental strength: It's working overtime personally and even seeking outside help to re-balance one's emotions and mind. In the case of Jabbari, her quest to protect her dignity and reclaim what was rightfully hers also reveals a justice system that failed her these basic rights. It also reveals our modern world's catastrophic devaluing of the feminine. Along with unjust sentencing for rape cases, countries (ranging from Western to Third World) still practice honor killings and profit off the billion-dollar industry of human trafficking, both catered to the theft of physical and mental femininity. Where's the justice in stealing a part of humanity? The imbalance is palpable.
So what do you do? It's bigger than being a woman. It's about a human identifying with his/her femininity and the devaluing of the other half that makes us whole. Jabbari's case just pulled the curtain a bit wider. I am not here to say what she did was right or wrong—her dignity, her power, her light was stolen from her—but her actions brought up a question that I may never know the answer to: How do you protect and reclaim your power without severe repercussions? If she had not committed this crime, this man's despicable actions would still be cloaked and, worse, unveiled to another woman.
Jabbari's views of the justice system transcended the laws provided by her country as she revealed her final thoughts to her mother in this voicemail:
You taught us that as we go to school one should be a lady in face of the quarrels and complaints. Do you remember how much you underlined the way we behave? Your experience was incorrect. When this incident happened, my teachings did not help me. Being presented in court made me appear as a cold-blooded murderer and a ruthless criminal. I shed no tears. I did not beg. I did not cry my head off since I trusted the law.
See the rest of the transcript here. Rest in Peace, Reyhaneh Jabbari.
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