Sometimes People Need to Feel the Pain
By Delaram Ali
Sunday 29 August 2010
Translated by: Sussan Tahmasebi
Change for Equality: His face is round and kind and he is always smiling. His hair is grey and he has a big frame. Like many old men, he is loveable.
He is the custodian at our office building, and I know him more than others do. I take the petition of the Campaign and start discussions with my coworkers, explaining what we are trying to do. Some take the petition quickly and return it with a signature, while others require more of an explanation. Well, maybe not an explanation, as much as sensitivity training on gender issues and women’s rights. This is natural. Most are men, and they have never felt the pain of discrimination that is promoted by the law. One of my coworkers asks: "so why should I sign this. I’m not a woman."
I laugh and explain about the age of criminal responsibility. "Have you ever considered what happens to children who are tried as adults?" Without any hesitation, my colleague takes the petition and signs it. Sometimes, people need to feel the pain of something before taking action.
He looks at me nervously. He knows that sooner or later it will be his turn. I move towards him. I hand him the petition and start explaining about the Campaign. He shifts his worried and kind stare away from me. With his head held low, he says: "it’s too late for me."
"No, it’s not too late for you." I reply with a smile. I know that he too must feel the pain of discrimination before signing on. "Think of your daughters, sign it for them." I say in a low voice. He looks at the piece of paper. He is embarrassed. His hand writing is poor, and he does not want me to see it. He takes the petition and begins to read the statement. He adds his name to list of those who have signed. For his legal priority, he writes "the right to divorce." And I understand him.
I understand that he is a father who has suffered through the pain of his daughter’s demand for a contested divorce. A pain, which he has felt wholly, so much so, that he does not hesitate even for an instance when writing it down as his priority. He returns the petition determined and triumphant, as if he has taken a huge step for his daughters, for all the girls of this land, who have suffered the bitter pain of not having the right to divorce.
Our glances cross, and we both smile. He is no longer worried about his poor handwriting, rather he is thinking of what he has signed. He is hopeful about the possibility of equality for his daughters and for all the women.
Note: This article was written over a year ago, but translated for the English site’s anniversary celebration of four years of face-to-face engagement with the public.