I was able to escape a situation that was like a nightmare to me, with an indescribable joy I “reach out and kiss my own two cheeks”.

I was born in a village where people aren’t devoutly religious, however by tradition married women wear white cheesecloth head scarves and maidens wear patterned head scarves. Since I was exceptionally successful I was sent from my village to the city to study, moreover as the only girl in a van full of male students.

When I was in 8th grade, my parents warned me to wear a hijab to school. When I refused, I became a victim of verbal and physical abuse. I insisted regardless and I was given the choice to either wear a hijab and continue my education or keep wearing the traditional headscarf and go back to my village. I loved my school, my friends, and most importantly learning. Besides, since I knew that not going to school meant I would have to get married at a young age, I chose to wear a hijab. At first I had to wear it everywhere except in the school building itself. However, I accepted the situation I was in after I read some religious books I took from the library and I got used to the social pressure. Wearing a hijab, I wasn’t allowed inside the university. Having being crushed between the oppressions of my friends, family, and religion on one side and the government on the other, I started to feel like I was losing touch with my personality and my individuality. Yet, as expected, I chose hijab, which I was forced to wear and now had embraced. However, the hijab was restricting me. Holding down my personality, and my life. Hijab was something I had to wear in order to not arouse the men around. That’s why I started to make changes in my life to follow the very same principle. I stopped dressing up. I held myself back from taking part in countless social activities. Skating, cycling, swimming, going to the theater… Despite how much I wanted to.

The arrogant confidence of men while I had to carry all these pressures on my dreams, feelings, and character, and the questions popping in my head as I kept learning about my religion itself had put me on a seesaw. Between my family, friends, the government, yet most importantly my own self; I was stuck. After my graduation I was appointed to be a public officer. It was still not allowed to wear headscarves in government buildings so I had to make a choice before that changes. I would either continue to play the role of the religious girl that my family and society approved of for the rest of my life, or I would break myself free of the restraints, especially the captivities of the hijab. Because once the headscarves were allowed in government buildings, I would have had no excuse to present my family with.

After being oppressed for years upon years, I had finally gathered all my strength and I was ready to stand up against everything with the support of myself, for myself. I had made my choice. As for the reactions from my family… I explained my decision to them during a holiday, months after. Not being extremely happy about it, still, my mother made her peace with it. The main reason for it was of course my economic independence, and the fact that I was living away from my family and those who could pressure my family. At first I thought everyone was constantly looking at me. However, I was finally free. For the first time in years I was myself. Apparently all that oppression had alienated me from myself. When I look back, it upsets and angers me that the place I was born had made so many decisions instead and despite of myself. I regret all those years that could have been spent in so much better ways. Yet still, because I was able to escape a situation that was like a nightmare to me, with an indescribable joy I “reach out and kiss my own two cheeks”.

To all the girls out there sitting in the same seesaw I once sat, facing the same obstacles and dead-ends but are not as lucky as me; I wish you luck and courage on your own journey.

(Image: Jeanie Southworth)

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Comment (1)

  1. Kararsız ama kararlı

    Çok teşekkürler ve tebrikler ? umarım biz de başarabiliriz

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