The following true story was sent to us by an activist in Jordan who recorded this first-hand account from a Kuwaiti woman. It was translated from Arabic into English.
The First Deprivation
My mother used to tell me, “You’ll grow up and you’ll forget.” I’ll never be old enough to forget.
When my big brother used to nag me I would cry, and I would run to my father. My father applauded my brother and always said, “My son is a man.” He used to look at me and say, “This is your big brother. He is the man of the house and you should give him respect.” When I grew up my brother kept me from attending school because he didn’t think I needed an education. He thought that eventually a man would marry me and support me, so I would never need a degree. Since my brother is a man, I needed to obey his orders. I would put my head down and say, “Whatever you want.”
After it became frightening to run to my father, I just kept quiet. I put all of my dreams in a basement full of dust and bugs. My room became a prison for me, only suitable for sleeping. I was forbidden from going out with my friends so that I would not become sinners, like them. Later it was considered dangerous to leave me sitting in my room because I might get adulteress ideas in my head, and in this moment I understood deprivation. When my prison was the only place I could escape from the reality of my brother and father, I understood deprivation. My dream was just to play with a Barbie – I liked to make her look beautiful and dance – but my father and brother forebode it because they thought it would fill my head with God-less thoughts and make me grow up too quickly.
When I laugh, when I cry, when I smile… It’s all about things that are forbidden. It’s as if “forbidden” was a term made only for women. I wanted to have the body of a man for one day, to see what life looks like. I dream to be like Cinderella, to have only one hour so I can feel that I am still alive and breathing.