- Feminist Peace Collective
I can’t even hate them anymore
I am 26 years old. I was born into a rich and well-known family in Azerbaijan. Despite that, I received my first trauma from my own father. He would treat us (children) well but would constantly commit physical and psychological violence against my mother – he would beat her, swear at her. I even saw my mother in blood once as my father had cut her face with a razor. My mother could no longer tolerate this and she got a divorce. She took us to another city and the worst part of our lives started from then on.
Do you know what it means to be a divorced woman in Azerbaijan? However clean and honourable you are, you will be looked at as a whore and in order to get into any job you will be asked for sexual favours and will be treated immorally. I could sense this in my mother’s face and tearful eyes after she would return from work every day.
I studied very well at school but because I did not have a father I would continuously be bullied psychologically by other kids who would tease and make fun of me. I even tried to commit suicide once by drinking acetic acid. In the two weeks that I was in hospital I told myself that I must be a strong woman.
After graduating from university I began working at an up and coming company in Azerbaijan as an engineer. Until then I had not had a romantic relationship with a man, but I met someone when I was 22. Throughout the 2 years of my relationship I was subject to physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Since I lost my virginity to him, when I expressed my intention to break up he threatened me, asked for money, called me an ugly and useless human. When I made my final decision to leave him he broke my fingers and thankfully the nightmare ended with that. I met another man one year later but because we had different political and religious views and, of course, because I was not a virgin, he subject me to psychological abuse.
As if this wasn’t enough, in order to get promoted in my company, my 40-year-old manager asked me to sleep with him. When I refused, he began to humiliate me in front of everyone. I have seen so much immoral behaviour from Azerbaijani men that I can’t even hate them anymore. This society has only left me with the option to run away. I don’t even want to be a strong woman anymore, I just want to be a free person whose rights are protected.
What I have told above represents only shortened snippets from my life. Thousands of women suffer from physical abuse in this society and they remain silent since they are helpless and scared. Thousands of women are killed every year and thousands of schoolgirls are sold to officials as prostitutes. They are even exploited sexually by their own fathers and brothers.
Being born as a woman in this society is torture. In order to remain a person with a conscience you are forced to struggle until the end of your life.