By far the happiest moment in my life was the moment I arrived in America with my mother. For ten years before we left India, my mother, brother and sister suffered abuse from my father's family. Everyday my mother, Reshma's life was a nightmare. Even though it had been an arranged marriage, my father's family took advantage of my mother. I hated the fact that I was so small and helpless. As I grew older I learned that the reason of the hatred was because my mother's family was of a lower caste. Loss of her family's wealth and prestige had caused my father's relatives to hate my mother.

Since my father lived in the United States and was waiting for our visas to be approved, he never knew what torture my mother was experiencing on a daily basis. For ten years day by day we waited for approval to emigrate to America. All we had to live on was hope.

One of the reasons I value my American citizenship is because the role of women here is so filled with opportunity and potential. In India, especially in the rural areas, most women face a desperate future.

According to the research I've done recently I learned that every year in India, there are more than 2,500 reports of bride- burning; a form of domestic abuse often disguised as "accidents" or "suicides". Many women are burned to death because their husbands or their in-laws are unhappy with the size of the dowry the wife has brought into the marriage. For many women in outlying areas in India their future is hopeless.

Now that I am a senior in Lake Braddock I look forward to my future. In America I am able to make choices and decisions of what to do with my life. Today, my outlook and opinions not only take into account the world around me, but also the world I left behind in India. Women are excluded from choices about whether to get an education. Many will not be allowed to have a career or a future they choose for themselves.

When I am old enough to have...

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