Life isn’t easy for anyone and each person has their own struggles to deal with. Even the richest and the most influential people in this world have problems. However, if you’re a woman, you’re probably going to face more problems than the men around you. This is true to a large extent for the majority of the women on this planet. The planet that we lovingly call “Mother” Earth. The challenges multiply if you’re a woman born in a misogynistic and patriarchal society like the one in India and many other developing countries. You don’t have to read this article in order to know what kind of problems an Indian woman faces on a daily basis, because you’d already know about them from your own experiences. While some women succumb to the pressure that engulfs them, some others fight their way out. Shireen, who identified herself only by her first name, is one such woman who overcame all the odds in life with true grit and determination.
Shireen, a lady auto driver from Mumbai, became popular after Humans of Bombay posted her story on their social media accounts last month. The story that went viral in just days sets an example for the women in our society. Read on to know more about Shireen’s story. Don’t blame us if you end up with teary eyes.
Victim of Misogyny Right From Childhood
Shireen was born in a conservative Muslim family that was financially weak. By the time she was 11, her parents started having issues in their relationship. Soon, they started fighting with each other and being just a kid, who had no clue about what was happening, the situation was hard on Shireen. We can imagine the plight of a kid who has to live in a house, where the mother and father fight like animals. Later, her parents got divorced and it took a toll on Shireen.
After the divorce, Shireen’s mother remarried. This is something quite normal to many of us but the community in which Shireen and her family lived in, looked down at them. “So when my mom decided to remarry, it was a scandal. But she went for what she wanted, fearlessly. After a few months, my mom was out with our brother, when a group of men from our community surrounded her, taunted her about her second marriage and humiliated her. They even taunted my brother and that affected her deeply. That night, she set herself on fire.”
Just because her mother re-married, she was taunted and harassed to a point that forced her to take her life. In the post, Shireen says that it was hard losing her mother but she moved on somehow. Within just one year of her mother’s demise, her father got her and her sister married off to different families. Things went bad again when her sister’s in-laws started bullying her for dowry. They poisoned her when she was pregnant and Shireen lost another important person in her life. Even though she was in a bad place after losing the two people she loved the most in her life, she gathered her spirit when she got pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy.
The same misogyny that took her mother and sister away from her, was now at her doorstep. After the birth of her third child, her husband lost interest in her. “All he wanted was to sleep with me. And when he was done with that, he said ‘talaq’ thrice and my kids and I had to leave the house. I was alone on the street, with three kids,” she said. This is the fate of many women in our country just because of men who consider them as objects to be used and left behind.
Fight For Survival
After the financial responsibilities of the family came down to her shoulders Shireen set up a small biriyani stall on the street to earn a living. Sadly the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) tore it down and Shireen was back to square one again. Shireen’s husband was an auto-rickshaw driver and from there, she took the idea of driving one herself for a living. Even when she earned well with this job, she was harassed and doubted by the people around her just because she was a woman. According to her, there were times when other male auto drivers would purposely bang into her vehicle and trouble her while taking fares.
But, Shireen is happy that she’s earning well and is able to take care of her children. “Even my passengers make me feel great, some clap for me, tip me well and even hug me! I remember once, a passenger addressed me as ‘bhaiya’. When he realized I was a woman, he said I was a ‘dabbang lady’. That’s what I know I am and I want other women to know that they can be one too!” she says in the post.
According to Shireen, women are capable of doing anything and every time she moves forward in her life, she’s not just doing it for herself, but also for every woman who is suffering in silence. Did this story inspire you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.