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A Letter to My Fellow Afghan Women

Friday 23 September 2016, by siawi3


Khadija Moradi

Salaam Sister,

In our land, time and space are pregnant with anger and violence. Violation of others’ rights, rape by family and strangers and even violation of one’s own rights and the charade that is “justice” has stunk up our communities.

It is as if there is no other being in this country as damned as a woman. Everywhere you look you can see anger and aggression against this hapless creature; it is as if she has landed in this ruined country to burn and tolerate in silence over and over again.

Day and night you sit and wait in the hope of having perhaps a moment of quiet and peace. You console yourself and dream of better days for women and girls of this country. You fight, and you try and exist as a human being living freely from the bondage of anger and brutality of all types. At times it seems time passes but not enough.

Here, to help you is a disgrace and to say “hello” to you leads to an accusation, but to rape you is just showing “manliness.” To attack your character is the most effective weapon used to discredit your voice in a war between families and ethnicities and more… And it is always you, sister, you who has to pay the price of your fellow human beings’ lust and anger. Even if you try to be yourself, by maintaining everything that is valuable to you as a human being, they force you to be a pawn in their game. If you resist, your community and family abandon you so that you serve as an example to all women who think of rebelling. They ostracize you and make you an example.

This is a fact in that women, whether educated or illiterate, are not seen as whole human beings by our society steeped in prejudice and ignorance. Women are Siasar (literally meaning black-headed, a word used to describe women as deserving of dark fates) belonging to the most wretched tribe of all time.

You know, sister, even in their jokes they seek to humiliate you. And when you protest, they call you a “rebel” so that you never dare to cross their lines again.

Whether you are educated or illiterate, a good woman is one who pretends to not understand, see or hear independently of men. To be a good woman you have to confirm the superiority of men and sees little to no equal to them.

From the perspective of our society, a good woman washes well, not just the dishes but also her own mind from thinking. A good woman is a “good” cleaner, not only of the home but also of her own emotions. A good woman lives a “good” life only inside the four walls of the house and if she steps out, she is no longer a “good woman.” It does not matter whether it is to study or work, she is attacked when she leaves her home only because she is a woman.

That is why if occasionally a woman understands the truth of her circumstances and cries out for her rights, she is faced with a variety of social pressures. Among them is the country’s corrupt judicial system which continues to sentence women to silence. The law applies only to the poor and the damned. At the end, after dragging her through halls and shaming her with endless paperwork designed to silence her, they scream at the woman’s face, “This is Afghanistan, sister” so she doesn’t expect justice next time either.

Here if a man insults a woman, there is no stigma and shame, rather a sign of his manliness. Here, the louder the voice of a man against a woman the more “brave” and “in control of his life” he is. But if someone behaves with women humanely, rumors of illicit relationships and accusations of promiscuity follow.

Sister, our story has become repetitive and turned into a wound that won’t heal. We continue to be the victims- not just of sexual transgressions but victims of the ignorance and prejudice that has become embedded in this country.

I only ask patience for you and if you have the endurance and strength, I hope that you succeed in trying to obtain equality. I wish for some wisdom and fairness in our community so that you may find people who stand next to you and not in front of you!

This piece was translated to English by Maryam Laly. A volunteer for Free Women Writers, Maryam is passionate about human rights issues. She has a degree in Government with minors in Peace Studies and Arabic from St. Lawrence University.