Mourning the girls of Nigeria and India…a haibun

Posted: June 17, 2014 in Musings, Poetry, Writing
Tags: , , , , ,

We sit in a darkened auditorium, surrounded by people in colorful Indian dress, the music of Indian in our ears, entranced by the daughter of friends performing Arangetram, the beginning dance of a dancer’s life. This girl, whom we’ve known since she was small, a girl who pulled carpet with my husband and her father, is at sixteen, a beautiful young woman. She dances for almost three hours with only a few breaks; enchanting, pouting, exciting, withdrawing, holding poses that would break strong men. In one part, she dances the story of a young maiden being importuned by a god. She says she’s not yet ready, asks him to wait until she is old enough. She looks gorgeous; her dances are marvels of vivid beauty.

She finishes, suddenly a gawky teen once again, giggling, slightly bent rather than erect and poised, chattering through her thank-you’s, moved to tears by her parents’ generosity and love, giving shout-outs to her friends.

Watching her dance, my mind drifts away to the stolen girls of Nigeria, victims of evil men, torn forever from their families. I cry inwardly for the two girls, 12 and 14, gang-raped and lynched as they relieved themselves at night in a country (India) with more access to mobile phone than toilets, and so many, many more such victims. They will never dance; never know that colors and beauty of their countries; never be gawky teens, filled with the joys and terrors of school and life; never see their families again or, just perhaps, become the next Indira Gandhis. Their innocence and lives were taken by the very men who should have cherished and protected them, an ultimate betrayal, deserving of death.

men without honor
ravish those they should protect
peacock’s scream splits night



  1. Paula says:

    When will it all end. So much injustice and tragedy in this world

  2. Suzanne says:

    That is so powerful – it gave me shivers reading it. Your haiku is a fantastic finish to a terrific haibun. Lets hope increasing global awareness about the abuse of women begins to change the attitudes that result in these dreadful events.

    • The men in these countries will have to change their attitudes toward women because unless there is a vast change, there’s no good way to stop it.


      • Suzanne says:

        I agree but I do think global attitudes can accelerate the raising of consciousness of some of the men involved – particularly the younger ones who have access to the internet.

      • I didn’t mean to discount your thoughts, Suzanne. When an attitude toward women is part of a culture (not that rape is an acceptable part of Indian culture or kidnapping in Nigerian as the culture once was), it can change, but certainly takes much too much time. Exacerbating the problem in India is the idea of the Dalits, the Untouchables, not being seen as people at all by many.

      • Suzanne says:

        I agree with all of that. There is so much that needs to change regarding the attitude to women in so many countries – it is just awful. The men that throw acid in the faces of women is another issue I find reprehensible. I just hope and pray that more enlightened attitudes will permeate these cultures and hold onto the hope that the young people with ready access to ideas from elsewhere can begin to break down the entrenched attitudes.

  3. I was speechless as I saw a documentation about the rape victims in India. The worst was that some of this encroachments happened in public and no one tried to help or to do anything. No one would say something they only shrugged with their shoulders and walked away.

    • And even police are involved at times. If those who are supposed to enforce laws and protect are part of the problem, where do you turn? Such an abuse of power at so many levels! It make me want to weep.


  4. camgal says:

    Thank you for this Janet

    • Camgal, thanks for stopping by. Good to see you. I miss all of you from FF, but am taking a summer break so I have more time for outdoor and other things.


      • camgal says:

        Good to hear. Been on a break too. Hope to rejoin the FF family again soon 🙂 Take care!

  5. This is what a haibun could do.. when the haiku really push the message through.. The subject is very close to my heart, and I find it most surprising that so few men write against it.. Hopefully it’s not because of their guilt — but because of some other reason. And the worst thing is that it happens closer… much closer. Every day..

    • Bjorn, I think that you’ve hit upon one of the most devastating points–men must be against this, fight it, punish those who do it and make a culture where it’s unacceptable. Without that, even if every women protests, it will continue. The most disturbing and scary part is that there is so little protest against it in these countries by men.


  6. When your story began I immediately thought of those poor kidnapped young girls. The pain of their families must be immeasurable, knowing the terrible fate that awaits them with their barbaric captors.

    • It’s impossible to fathom and difficult to contemplate. When the captors keep taunting, it must be even worse. And it is difficult or impossible to do anything about it. Heart-breaking.


  7. Madhu says:

    An achingly beautiful representation of how carefree young girls lives ought to be, but isn’t for a majority across the world. What is galling is that those ‘men without honour’ get away with impunity every time.

    • It’s literally a crime (or should be.) I think castration would be, at the very least, a fitting punishment. What bothers me just as much is that so many others don’t speak out against it. I admire the women in those countries who do, as that can make them targets as well, but that more men don’t and don’t do whatever it takes is horrible too.


      • Madhu says:

        I second the castration bit. We do have stringent laws in place. It is the enforcement that is an issue, with corruption being so rampant. That is why the most horrendous crimes that get publicity do make it to courts.And the goons might get convicted. But there are countless others, perhaps less barbaric, but crimes all the same, that go unnoticed. We need to cry for those victims even more.

  8. So powerful and moving Janet. I too feel shocked and horror struck by what is happening to our girls. Castration is far too good for these men!

  9. says:

    The first part of your post was so light hearted and I formulated a wonderful mental picture of the twirling young girl though I knew what was coming…I have strongly believed in an eye for an eye for most of my life. Not always the death sentence but I really wonder how crime would lesson throughout the world if the punishment was the exacting retribution of the crime.

  10. Janet,
    I cry for these women, and victims of abuse everywhere. Thank you for writing a touching tribute to them and for raising awareness of their plight.

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