– By Maleeha Babar
When did people become numbers and bodies become commodities?
When I look through my newsfeed, I see lists of deaths. Articles upon articles pile up my newsfeed, filling it with intoxicating death: spiritual death, emotional death, physical death and intellectual death.
Rape is a cliché.
But it’s not.
Until we recognize our humanity, however, it will be.
Everywhere I go, I see our humanity denigrated to parts and pieces, to objects and commodities, to numbers and statistics. And yet no one says a word. We’ll like and share and like and share pictures upon pictures of people being violated, slaughtered, used and abused, yet we won’t stop to think:
How are we a part of this?
How are we engaging in this?
And these are difficult questions, for which I don’t have all the answers.
But I think that only when we start to recognize our humanity, will we be able to understand the implications of it all. It’s a hard road. It’s a road that requires caring. And working. And changing. And trying your best to give it what you have. And being here. And being present. And being ready. And opening our hearts (sometimes to the hardest of challenges). But it’s so much more effective, I have found, than to act as if this life is not truly a gift; is not truly an amanah for all of us. It’s not an easy road to care, to do things that other people won’t do. But I have found time and time again, that it’s so worth it. It’s worth it to get out of our comfort zones, to look for answers, to be bothered by things enough to act on them, and to care.
An example of how numb we’ve become with the topic of rape is how often it occurs right in front of us. Rape and sexual violation, oppression and abuse are not things that occur in far¬-off lands and strange countries. They occur, here and now. In our country, in our city, in our homes and in our Muslim communities. Although we know how often sexual assault occurs, we’ve become numb to what it means. We’ve become numb to how violating it feels to have your body used as a source of pleasure for somebody else. We stare at people like they’re pieces of meat, ready to pounce on them at any given moment. We grope people in clubs, cat call them in the streets, and make jokes about their “assets”. Either we’ll be the perpetrators or the bystanders, but we’ll always consider it “normal”.
It’s understandable how much we’ve become numb to things. But it’s not how we’ll ever make a difference.
Our humanity is something that helps us understand. It gives us the ability to say, “I know you.” “I recognize you,” and “I will be here for you.”
And I think that’s a gift worth fighting for.