Breaking the Shells
Photo: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
-Giang, perhaps this is the last time we meet.
-No, you will join apu's wedding in Chittagong and you will meet me there.
-No, that's impossible. Our parents will never allow us to go.
-Why? You are a grown up and you are not staying at home. You can go wherever you want.
-No, Giang. This is Bangladesh.
My friends' simple answer made me very upset. Since birth until now my friends have been under strict surveillance. Their every move is inspected by their parents and they have to ask permission from the family every time they want to go anywhere. They are not allowed to do anything without permission.
On the contrary, I too have grown up under the care of my parents. I used to ask their permission every time I wanted to go out with my friends or wanted to go shopping. As a young girl my parents were very important in making decisions in my life.
But when I entered university, I knew that I had to make my own decisions and be responsible for my acts. Sometimes I made wrong choices but I know it was good for me as it helped me learn through my mistakes. I believe it is necessary to inform my parents regarding all the important decisions of my life. Since, I took them single-handedly I did not want my parents to be left in the dark and more so it would be down right disrespectful to not make them a part of my decision making. At times, I thought telling them the problem would make them more worried so I tactfully avoided it. I do not want my parents to be worried because of me.
However, when I look at other girls (particularly Bangladeshi and Asian) I am almost shocked and at times even concerned for them. It seems as if many of them do not have the self-trust and confidence.
In addition, sometimes we fail to realise we are the ones who can make our parents lose their trust in us. By taking permission from our parents, we show that we cannot make our own decisions. To gain our parent's trust it is very important to show that we have grown up and we can make our own decision. In the way we act, the way we talk, our parents will know when we are mature enough to go our own way. And this is vital in shaping our life.
Another barrier is the perception of men and women in our Asian society. Men are in a more favourable condition in many Asian families. They have more freedom as compared to women. Therefore, women are afraid to speak their mind, to have their own choices and gradually they lose their self-confidence. It is essential in a society to welcome women and build the trust amongst people. A better community is the place where both men and women can have equal rights.
(The author is a Vietnamese Intern working at The Daily Star.)