I blog for Change…

As I attempt to orient the windy and often treacherous roads that encapsulate life, here are some of my thoughts on the successes, failures and ultimately the hope and positivity in which I strive for a better world. I also hope that I can use this blog as a platform to elevate the social justice issues that are somewhat forgotten in the modern discourse of staying silent on issues that challenge. Sx

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To forgive.

Forgiveness is quite possibly the most difficult act to endeavour upon, especially if you’ve been hurt deeply by something or someone. I myself have been carrying around so much baggage pertaining to being damaged that for the longest time it has left me accepting the fact that holding on to a grudge is just the generic go to and sole response open to me within the gamut of my emotions. What’s become more and more evident over time however is that I am capable of so much more and the only one I’ve been affecting by refusing to let go of this pain has been me, and me alone.

It made me question why the idea of forgiveness is such a difficult one. As human beings we tend to look back at situations in which all we really remember is the outcome of an interaction and the way in which it made us feel. Having your heart broken is one of these difficult instances and so often it then leads to all kinds of other triggers of emotions pertaining to self-loathing and self-doubt. For me personally, it was so much easier to blame this on the person who caused all the heartache than consider that I was making an active decision to stay in that downbeat place. Whenever I was stuck in a rut, or refused to open myself up to someone I would revert back to that circumstance, recall the negative emotion it triggered, get lost in that revulsion and justify my pessimistic actions.

However, I had the most freeing thought the other day. One in which I considered what it would be like to accept the fact that I had held on to heartbreak, pain and loss for too long and regardless of whether the person who had wronged me was remorseful for his actions, I wanted to let go. I realised that I genuinely was ready to forgive this person, that situation and myself for allowing it to occur. I was ready to forgive him and most importantly forgive myself and just let go of that negativity. By holding on so tightly and vehemently to the pain, I was holding myself back in a way that was completely self-inflicted.

In a flood of emotion and an instantaneous epiphany, I understood that it didn’t matter anymore in the scheme of things. That hating someone and looking back with such combined fury and sadness was not going to change anything. I was and have been actively making a mental choice every day, for the past 3 years which has sapped my energy, my hope and my belief. I have done that to myself and to be honest, I am sick and tired of self sabotaging in this way. Instead, I choose to forgive, not because he deserves it but because I do.



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An Ode to Friendship.

I’ve been meaning to write a piece on friendship and what it means to me for a while now. However, as with most things, life has seemingly got in the way each and every time. I’ve also somewhat struggled to properly express myself within this realm for the entirety of my life. Those that know me will well understand that verbally articulating my emotions or feelings is not something that comes naturally. Compounded to this has been growing up in a family in which no one ever really addressed their feelings out in the open at all, whether they be negative or positive in nature. I think in some ways this has set a precedent for taking these relationships for granted.

But as I’ve gotten older I’ve started to understand that it’s important to tell the people closest to me how I feel and make some gesture towards appreciating the impact that their presence has had on my life. Being an only child I’ve never had the opportunity to experience what having a sibling would be like. I know that in the minds of many, this would be something to be longed after and I suppose appreciated as I’ve never really had to share anything for my entire life and yes, I’ve never had to compete with anyone for my parents attentions; it’s always solely belonged to me. But what I have missed out on is that unbreakable bond, of being able to share the turbulent nature of my household’s distresses with any else. Since childhood I’ve had to bear that burden firmly and exclusively on my shoulders.

As I’ve grown though, and especially recently, I’ve been lucky enough to come across a few people who have fostered relationships with me that mirror the bond of siblings. I’ve opened my heart and beared my soul to them and whilst I was fearful that I would look up and stare into judgmental eyes, I have instead found a place that much resembles the metaphorical home I have always sought after. When I was younger I thought that friendship meant constantly being ‘on’ and presenting the best side of ourselves to each other at all times. What I have realised is that it’s only by sharing those moments of true despair, of heartbreak, of loss, of utter insanity at times that we are able to form the bonds of true friendship.

So this post is for those of you who have become my siblings, you know who you are. Thank you for accepting my flaws, my complexities and my imperfections. Thank you for being there to just sit with me when no words could be formed to take away that hurt that was eating at me from the inside out. Thank you for laughing with me through the tears and, mostly, thank you for just being there day in and day out to take this wondrous and oftentimes soul wrenching journey that is life with me.


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I am more than what I weigh.

I debated for a long time whether or not to openly share this post; not composing it was never an option due to the cathartic nature of the reasons behind why I write. But as time went on, I realised that as a whole we aren’t open enough about our vulnerabilities and the struggles we go through in life and therefore felt compelled to post this piece.

Over the recent past I’ve felt the compounding depths of despair as I bemoaned the hyper fluctuation in my weight. I’ve often thought that this was never really anything that mattered to me and over the span of about 5 years I can only recall getting on the scales about once or twice. Last year however, I lost a fair amount of weight, without even meaning to. All of sudden I felt an all consuming urge to not only keep that weight off but lose substantially more. As I look back on it all I’m still struggling to comprehend this fast moving effect and how important it became to me. I began indulging in some entirely unhealthy practices in order to keep up my never ending pursuit of the next version of skinny, of attractiveness, of so called perfection. I gave into a cycle of binging and then purging and all the while the guilt of it all was slowly but certainly eating me up inside.

I remember looking at my existence and thinking that I had allowed this one element to consume every waking moment of my life. It soon became an endless rotation of either worrying about my next meal or calorie counting to a tee and starving myself until the next one. I began weighing myself at least twice a day and even a slight fluctuation would result in a depressive plunge that left me debilitated. Out of nowhere, I had gone from a free thinking, IDGAF attitude wielding badass woman to a neurotic, obsessive calorie counter that could see nowhere past the upkeep of her ‘skinny’ image. What had happened to me and how had it occurred so quickly and seemingly without my knowledge?

It’s safe to say that I never thought I would be that person. I’ve now stopped weighing myself because I want my life to be about so much more than the superficial. I also realised that in my pursuit of that warped version of perfection, every step I made towards it was actually pushing it further away. At the rate that I was going at, nothing would ever be good enough and I shudder to think where that lifestyle would have taken me had I let it.

I still struggle with letting go of that level of micro control even today, but I also understand that in holding those reigns so tightly and choosing to focus so narrowly on a tainted version of the perfect I was vastly diminishing my quality of life. I am more than my weight, I am more than my physical appearance. From now on I choose to feed my soul and that is what I will focus on moving forward.



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Consent & a Woman’s worth.

When news of the abhorrent Stanford rape case broke last week it was natural to recoil in disgust at the brutal details of it all. The idea that a young woman could be violated and victimised in such a blatant way was almost unfathomable. What surprised me was what was to come after the initial story broke and how the media seemed fixated on providing a space for the assailant to justify his actions to the world. The entire rhetoric seemed to shift to a place where the victim was being forced to defend her actions within her own sexual assault. All of sudden people were digging into her past and focusing their lines of questioning on why she allowed herself to get to that state and therefore was it all actually her own fault in the end?! The double standards of it all utterly appalled me.

The entire idea of male entitlement and a ‘boys will be boys’ attitude has further come to the forefront since a letter to the judge presiding over this case was released by the father of the accused. The sentiment of the entire piece focused on what was described as a lifetime of unwarranted suspicion and labelling as predatory figure due to ’20 minutes of action’ – yes can you believe it, that was the terminology used for this hideous incident. It seemed that the main concern of this man was that this one ‘unfortunate’ occurrence would ruin the life of his son without actually addressing the hideous nature of the crime itself.

Negative behavioural patterns associated with fraternities were sighted in which a culture of drinking and drug taking were identified as the contributing factor as this act was attempted to be explained and justified. At no point has this young man ever taken responsibility for his actions, for the indignity he caused his victim as she was poked and prodded after the attack; of attempting to place the onus of the blame on her for being intoxicated and therefore placing herself in a vulnerable state. At no point did this young man even attempt to apologise to anyone, let alone to the victim for his deplorable actions. Instead, himself and his supporters have chosen to tow the line of downplaying the incident to something which is not even worthy of being referred to as a crime.

Has society really come to the point where sexual violence against women is now seen as something to be written off as a minor offence in the scheme of things? The systemic acceptance of such behaviours and attitudes in which the main priority is to protect the man and cry foul play on the part of such Jezebellian women is beyond the absurd. The truth is this young man committed a crime which indignantly robbed another human being of the dignity that is associated with basic human rights.

Whether or not his potential Olympic career has been snuffed out because of the press this case has received is irrelevant, he’s lost this opportunity because of his actions. He intentionally made the decision to prey on someone in a vulnerable position; he is a sex offender and should be registered as such. On the flip side of things, no one is paying any attention to the far reaching effects and consequences that this assault will forever impose on the victim. Her quality of life has been vastly diminished in which a loss of confidence, of dignity and of most importantly her own self respect has been robbed from her in the most monstrous way. She will forever be haunted by the crime of another and be publicly followed by society’s judgments around whether or not ‘decency’ or lack thereof contributed to her trauma. The saddest part of all is that she’ll always wonder whether it was in fact her fault all along and whether she was somehow asking for it…. what a sad, unequal and double standardised world we live in.

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Women with Disabilities & their quest for dignity.

I’ve spent close to 10 years in the community development field and as time continues to go on I become more and more aware of the burdens that women in poverty face. Add to these women with disabilities living in poverty and those of ethnic or religious minorities and the equation they are faced with represents what is referred to as a double and sometimes even triple marginalisation burden in their pursuit of an improved quality of life.

When considering the stigma and discrimination associated with disability on its own, it’s easy to then draw on how being a woman with disability within developing societies would represent further exclusion. Recent studies have found that women with disabilities are twice as likely to experience gender based, domestic and sexual violence than women without disabilities. In many circumstances those with intellectual disabilities or who suffer from mental illnesses are stripped of the basic decision making capacities for their own lives and degraded to the point of forced sterilisation and/or institutionalisation against their will.

In the Indian context, countless experiences have been documented where husbands who are unhappy with their wives forcibly institutionalise them in order to then re-marry. Once within psychiatric institutions these women are stripped of all their rights, heavily medicated and undergo forced electro shock therapy. Not to mention the undocumented cases of these women facing ongoing physical and sexual violence as they are left to wallow within these institutions and robbed of all decision-making capacity of their own mental and reproductive health.

Within my work I also often find cases where women with disabilities are treated like second-class citizens within their own homes and societies. They are essentially stripped of every aspect and opportunity towards voice, leadership and decision-making capacity. This occurs within decisions regarding their own lives as well as, being crowded out of the process for participation within community mobilisation resulting in development. This is most likely due to ill-conceived presuppositions of their ‘capacity’ to contribute or in the community’s beliefs, their lack thereof.

The lesson to remember in all of this is that as the fight for equality and women’s rights goes on, let’s try not to forget that women facing discrimination worldwide are not a homogenous group. Women with disabilities face all the discrimination involved with their sex and preconceived limiting gender roles, as well as, the stigma, exclusion and discrimination that exists towards persons with disabilities. Let’s ensure that the double and triple burden that plays out in the lives of women with disabilities does not go unchecked or unnoticed as we continue the fight for equality.


*Image Courtesy of CBM International