Sunday, June 24, 2012

Zulaikha's Story

I would just like to thank everyone for their overwhelming support for my last post. It was definitely not an easy one to write, but all your emails, tweets, Facebook msgs, DMs and comments on the post were incredible. Sadly, it seems that a ridiculous number of people share similar experiences... I was shocked at how many of you messaged with stories of your own. It hurts to hear & I'm so terribly sorry there has been so much collective pain... just know that you are definitely not alone. There are too many people who have suffered. Lets try to change this attitude of denial or disbelief that parents/caregivers often have in Pakistan. 

I'm starting a petition, I don't often ask for anything specific... but this time I will ask that you sign it. There is power in numbers, so lets see where it takes us. Please share on your Twitter and Facebook pages. Its just a petition... nothing scandalous. So relax. 

If we can get a significant amount of signatures I'm sure someone that can do something will take notice (I have looked and looked and asked around for the correct 'someone' to address it to in Pakistan and still haven't found anything - any leads would be appreciated). 

Though I don't expect much from Pakistanis in terms of actively voicing a cause such as this...crazier things have happened because of social media. Prove me wrong. Please. 

I propose that we petition to get a countrywide government funded Advertising Campaign to warn against Child Sex Abuse in Pakistan specifically. It should cover:

1) What you need to teach your children in order to warn them.  
2) What cues parents should be on the lookout for
3) That it needs to be made clear to children that they can talk to their parents about anything
4)That predators are often people you know and trust, and come from all economic backgrounds
5)That servants should ideally have references from former employees, & children should definitely    not be left alone in their (or anyone you don't know well's) care
6)It should include the alarming statistics related to this issue.

Sign by clicking on the widget above. (I understand ppl may have privacy concerns, all I am looking to collect is names and cities/countries you can fill out fictional things in the address and postal code line) Thank you :) 

If you decided not to sign for some reason, and you need another reason why... just read the following interview. 

Zulaikha, 34, Female

At what age (approximately) and how did you come to know about sexual intercourse?
I was molested as a child by my cook. I was eight years old. He repeatedly molested me for almost a year. I did not understand the experience at all except that it was painful, it made me bleed and that if I told anybody, he would kill me. Of course, this was something he had convinced me of. He also told me I made him do these things. I was very afraid at the time. I think I blocked it completely for years. I didn’t tell anyone till I was 20.

Instinctively, I knew it was BAD and wrong. However, I feared my changing body and blamed it on the experience entirely. It was so traumatic, that eventually I blocked it from my mind by sheer will.

I began masturbating (completely by accident) when I was 11. The muslim shower pretty much did the trick. I didn’t know what I was doing except that it made me feel deliciously good and the moment when I orgasmed was so wonderful that I would do it over and over just to feel it again.

I found out about sexual intercourse from my biology book in 9th grade. I was horrified and it brought back feelings of shame and guilt. However, I was also excited and disturbed that people would do such a thing. I still blocked my childhood molestation (I might as well call it rape) but it would try to creep back into my mind.

Is Pakistan sexually repressed as a nation?
Yes. I think Pakistan is sexually repressed. I think people impose guilt and shame on sexuality and mess everything up.

Have you ever had/Do you enjoy having sex?
I have had sex many times. I have engaged in sexual intercourse with my boyfriends. I had a couple of one night stands which made me uncomfortable. However, I do not regret those experiences.

I had my first penetrative sexual encounter at the age of 27. Before that I had avoided penetration (and done “everything else”) because it frightened me and brought back bad memories. I have had therapy for my guilt but it creeps back in now and then. However, I got over it mostly when I just did it. I wouldn’t have done it and would have stayed frightened if the man hadn’t insisted or threatened to leave me. Bad start but it led to a more fulfilling life. The first time was pallid and quite uninteresting. I didn’t “feel” anything except mild pain. There was no blood. It was quite disappointing. Later I realized it was the man who just didn’t know how to use it! I even blamed myself for it and felt awful and stupid. But again, later, other men proved me wrong.

I love sex. I love the idea of it. I love wanting it. I love doing it. I love doing everything I can during sex. I love how it creates a new realm of understanding/perspective and you become something you are not even aware of otherwise. I love how I can let go and enjoy myself. I also love how I can please another human being. It is gratifying and so much fun.

On premarital sex:
I’ve only ever had pre-marital sex. I’m not married. I just know I couldn’t deny myself sex just because I’m not married. That’s mostly how I’ve been.

The one night stands were between relationships and were not very satisfying. I think sex with a particular person improves with time. You grow into each other and understand every nuance, every signal, every glance. It gets better that way. Sometimes, it is so good it almost kills you with pleasure. I think the Japanese call orgasms “little deaths” for a reason.

Have you had more than one sexual partner in life?
Yes. I’ve had 7.

On Arranged Marriage: 
Not married. Yet. If it happens, it will happen. Just like that :)

On Sex & Equality:
I don’t think it is a completely equal act all the time. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, you have to let the other person enjoy themselves more because it gives you a feeling of having done something good for the other person. I find it hard to explain.

However, if it’s always not equal, then it’s a problem. That wouldn’t really work now, would it? It just wouldn’t be fair. It would also make the person missing out on the fun feel very bad.

What do you think nature and the physical differences between men and women have to do with gender roles in society?
I am generally confused about gender roles in the society these days. I don’t really want to even think about it. I think I am tired with gender roles.

Have you ever experienced a multiple orgasm?
Yes I have. I usually have multiple orgasms. I have one followed by another one almost instantly and then another. It is a very pleasing and breathless experience.

The first time I experienced it was while masturbating because I continued doing what I was doing to myself even after I reached orgasm. I was surprised because it didn’t stop but kept going. Then I decided that I would see how many I could have at the same time. I think my record was 9.

I don’t think I am pleased during sex until I have three in one go. I like telling my partners when I orgasm and how many times because it pleases them.

Have you ever found or had your g-spot found?
I think there is a spot which is more sensitive but I am not quite sure where it is. For some insane reason I think it changes. I think it goes for a walk and decides to settle down in different places.

Do you know anyone who has sex but has not yet experienced an orgasm? What are your thoughts on that?
Yes I know quite a few women who have had sex but haven’t experienced an orgasm. Some don’t even know that they should have one. It makes me sad. It also frustrates me. Why would this be happening to them?

Do you think about sex every day?
I have days when I think about it all the time. But then I have days when I don’t at all. But if I’m reminded of it (by a person, a film, a book, a picture etc) then I start thinking about it. When I was younger, I thought about it more often. I think when I get older, I’ll probably think about it more. Sometimes, I ignore the thought because I work so much. When I’m older and I don’t have to work as much, I’ll probably think about it more.

Do you think sex plays a major role in your life?
I am an artist. A lot of my work comes from my sex drive. Sometimes I think I feel alive because I know sex exists.

On Masturbation:
Masturbation is normal. It helps relieve stress. It also gives pleasure. Self-love is important for self esteem.

Would you morally, ethically or in any way, have a problem with marrying someone who had had sex with someone before you? 
Not at all. Virgins frighten me. Inexperience is frightening. I avoid sexual encounters with inexperienced people.

On Pornography:
I love porn. It is a visual form of fantasy that I enjoy not just for sexual reasons. I find it very interesting and I enjoy dissecting it to understand visual and human culture.

I think it represents the history of the sexual experiences and fantasies of people over time. Vintage pornography is a favorite of mine. I look for it to understand the human condition of the past.

To what extent, in comparison with the rest of the world, do you think people practice bestiality (sex with animals) in this country? 
I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I know people have sex with animals here. I’ve heard about it and even seen it once. I feel bad for the animals because I doubt they are consenting of this kind of behavior. I find forced sex repulsive.

What are your thoughts on homosexuality?
If you’re gay, you’re gay. That’s how I see it. I think people are born gay or straight. Nobody should have a problem with it. It would be like having an issue with somebody being straight. You are what you are.

Do you think education is important, when it comes to something like sexuality?
Yes. It’s very important. If you know more about it, you can make better choices.

What kind of role do you think sex plays in religion?
I have tried to deconstruct that idea for a while and no answers yet.

Do you think we have a problem in this country with sexual predators and Paedophiles, and to what extent, in comparison with the rest of the world? 
I think we do. Hell, yes. I was a victim of a pedophile. I know what that did to me as a person. Some of my friends have faced similar abuse as children. I wouldn’t say that there are more freaks here than anywhere else. A friend in the US was repeatedly abused sexually by both her parents. That frightened me beyond reason. 

Zulaikha and I had a follow up chat too... here's what she said (& it broke my heart all over again. But what an incredibly strong woman she is, that she had the courage to face this ugly fact head on and confront it):

It was rape. He penetrated me and I felt violated even though I wasn't sure what was happening. It was painful and humiliating. I call it molestation to take the sting out. I suppose I still feel humiliated though it wasn't my fault. Nobody tried to locate the cook. I remember thinking that if I ever found him when I was bigger and stronger, I'd hurt him very badly. For years I'd look for him in crowds - in the markets. Then I stopped.

He had worked in my house for years - he was a child when he started. He pretty much grew up in my house. Then he vanished after he stole a lot of things while we were away. I told my parents finally when I was 20. They didn't believe me until my brother told them his story and backed me up. He had also raped my brother. When two of us spoke up together, they believed us. But I'm not sure even now if they really did. Then they would blame themselves. And I don't think they would want to blame themselves. My father was always on flights, away from home. That was his job. He used to be an airline pilot before he retired. My mom would sleep in the afternoon. My brothers and I would be left to our own devices.

I was in therapy before I told them. When I was 19, I tried to kill myself and I had a kind of nervous breakdown that put me in the hospital. That led to therapy and I feel that talking about myself eventually helped me face what had happened to me before. The therapist connected it to my personality disorder (or so they claimed) and I eventually had the courage to face it myself. Then I told my parents. I don't think it was just the therapy. I got tired of being sad and guilty. However, the therapist did make me realize it wasn't my fault. I was afraid I had brought it on myself. I suppose the cultural shit I was exposed to gave me that fear. Only bad girls get touched in "bad ways" and so I blamed myself.


Her story really just shatters me. My heart goes out to her and her brother. How I wish I could ensure that this doesn't happen to anyone again....but sadly it will :( Don't just stand by and let it happen, the least you can do is #SignThePetitionPakistan

Oh - and Zulaikha, never EVER blame yourself for this. Thank you for your immense courage.

If you are a victim of sexual abuse in Pakistan & are looking for support, Sahil is a great resource. 


  1. What is a muslim shower ? Do you mean Lota ? nj

  2. Im actually shocked im the first person leaving a comment. its horrific this has happened to you and your brother Zulaikha. It just shows how easily these sickos can get away with destroying lives over and over again. What kind of conscience must you have to do this in to the children of those who provide you with your livelihood. Its nauseating. More nauseating is our attitude as a society towards this issue. You can see it simply in the lack of comments in response to this heart breaking story. The above moron is more concerned with a minor detail, just so he can jerk off to the thought of a girl masturbating. Our country is full of sick fucks and its time to speak out against it. Im glad someone started a petition. And im glad that people like you are speaking out with your stories, it will definitely create more awareness, and give support to those in similar situations. You are a brave and brilliant woman zulaikha, dont let anyone tell you otherwise. and you've got some balls! Kudos.

  3. You said it Sara.
    I rarely comment anywhere, even on very serious pieces of writings, but this just shook me up.
    I already knew most of the above and yet, the shock value was great.
    Like said somewhere in the article, the cultural shit we are exposed to does cause weird reactions.
    As someone who knows someone very close with a similar albeit less extreme childhood experience, I strongly agree that this BS must be controlled.
    Petition signed, remain worried as a future parent though.
    God help us.

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  5. This truly was a heartbreaking piece. Thank you for sharing your story so bravely Zuleikha. Hopefully this will encourage others the importance of speaking to your kids about sexual abuse and predators - and actually having sex ed in Pakistani schools!

    NJ - seek help you perve.