Today I taped my mouth shut for the 1 in 9 campaign. I thought little about why I was doing it or why the entire event was taking place. All I knew was that it was time I stopped watching and started participating. This was my first event. Today was also the first time some people haven’t been able to look me in the eye. Today was the first time someone has deliberately crossed the street to avoid me. Today I watched people’s eyes slide over me like water over glass, taking in only the purple shirt and black tape. Twice I had people comment on the stupidity of what I was doing merely because I couldn’t answer back.
Did my silence make you uncomfortable? Did my silence make you think of the women I represent? Did you, for one moment of your life, stop and think of a woman who has lost her hope, her dignity and her trust in the human race? That woman is the only person on my mind today.
My eyes were opened and that women are on my mind because today I felt every comment, every rejection of my cause and the rejection of what I believe is right. Today I knew the cold of the cement from the lie-in, I felt the discomfort of not being able to tell people how I felt, the tightness of the tape on my mouth and the claustrophobia caused by it. Today was uncomfortable, but today is the first time I have focused on others instead of myself. Today I know how those rape victims are restricted, and my heart burns in my chest because this is my country, my people causing this pain.
Next time when you see me with the black stripe across my mouth, pull your head out the gutter and take a good look in the mirror. I am doing this because of people like you; the people who make comments, the people who avoid me and the people who offer me food when I’m on a hunger strike. I do this because someone, somewhere has to take a stand, and today that person is obviously not you.