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[NOT] PUBLIC PROPERTY: Bodily Autonomy

To this day, the integrity of a woman’s body is often still considered insignificant by society. Rape, violence against children, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, and human trafficking are prevalent yet left unheeded or not getting enough attention. And every time these horrible incidents occur over and over again, everybody would focus their efforts on coming up with all these rules about the female body instead:

It should not be like this. It should not be like that. You cannot wear this type of clothing. You should not look like that.

Eventually, people would continue to make noise about it for the next two to three days. And that would be as far as things go. Afterwards, we are left with this sense of indifference as if this is simply a form of tribute that women must pay towards the patriarchal society. On and on with no end in sight.

Every time we go out, whether we are passing by a small warung, walking through a dark alleyway, or even crossing through a brightly lit open space, we are always in a hurry. Harbouring fear and distress to the point of utter frustration. And once again, many are not losing sleep apart from those who suffer the same fate. The vulnerable and the marginalised.

In reality, living in security and freedom of expression are two of the most basic of human rights. From the beginning, God has given each human being the liberty in terms of the ability to think and decide what is best for us. The freedom to become capable and utilise our body to its potential, which is a gift from God. Hence, it is only right that not one person – who is not God – has the right to dictate or justify another person just because of one’s body shape. As sensible and reasonable human beings, we must know that the words “protect”, “remind”, or “honour” exist not to imprison or restrain one’s creativity, rather to preserve the hope that passionately burns inside us; one that should be provided a breeding ground instead of being subjected to suppression. If these deceits and subterfuges that tyrannise bodily autonomy are allowed to be normalised, legitimised, or even permitted, the extent of its absurdness amidst the frenzied excitement of the modern era would simply be ridiculous.

The female body is not some subjugated object that could just be forced to wear, do, or behave in a certain way. We are independent human beings who can think and decide for ourselves. We do not need to be represented. What we need is to be involved in every single decision-making process without first being justified as a creature that place our emotions above all else. We must learn how to empathise and find a solution together instead of taking the easy way out by constantly dictating the female body without solving the real problem at hand.

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