by Virginia Saldanha

It’s not always like this for women and yet the poem brings out the excruciatingly painful reality of too many women. Even if I have reason to celebrate, even if it is another woman’s body being sold, raped, battered, abused – somehow, that other woman’s body is my body too.

What is this woman body?
For a girl born to poverty.
It becornes a commodity
Used by her family,
When there’s no money.
It is bought and sold,
Used and abused,
For the seller’s profit
And the buyer’s pleasure.

What is this woman body?

Mira is Petite and scared,
Can she trust a man ever?
If her own father tore into her
At a tender age,
Leaving her bewildered
Asking ‑ What really is man?
The earliest relationship of a girl,
Transformed into a nightmare.
Confused, she wonders
What is this woman body?

Right from childhood
It is useful
Everyone claims this woman body.
Unpaid servant, beast of burden,
Convenient scapegoat
for venting frustrations
A pliant sacrifice
To gorge depravity.

What is this woman body?
At 27 woman ought to be married!
Society screams.
I choose the best proposal
‑ marry a bank manager
– produce a son and heir within a year
My husband has no further use for me.

What is this woman body?

Beautiful Samira’s totally distraught,
Am I a toy? She asks
choked with shock,
that he makes me do weird things
in the name of love,
to regale his friends,
relating details of our intimacy
Is this love? she wonders,

What is this woman body?

Women tell horror stories
Of cigarette burns on intimate parts
A pipe shoved into the vagina,
Semen forced down her throat,
Violent rape, mechanical sex,
And they all wonder –

What is this woman body?

Caught in a cage,
It bears unbearable abuse,
Endures unspeakable violence,
Her body, only in name.
Her choice? her love? her life?
Mirages, seen only in dreams
where woman’s body is respected ….
At least for her daughters!

The media compounds the distortion

And woman concludes –
her body is not hers
But a sacrifice for man.
The ultimate betrayal
Are the sex offenders
Who stand before congregations
And say: “Do this in Memory of ME.”

Virginia Saldanha ,(India) is the Executive Secretary of the FABC Office of Laity with responsibility for the Women’s Desk. A free lance writer and member,of the Satyashodak a Catholic Women’s reflection group, she has a Diploma in Theology for Laity from the Bombay Diocesan Seminary. In 2004, during EWA’s 2nd conference, she was elected Finance Coordinator for EWA