Laila (not her real name) is an 18-year-old girl who lives in a CWS-sponsored group home in Jakarta, Indonesia. In early December, Laila joined the 16 Days of Activism international campaign against gender-based violence by drawing pictures and writing poems to raise her voice against such violence. Since the end of the official 2018 campaign, Laila has continued creating and her work has inspired CWS staff to share more of her creativity along with her commentary. Laila started writing poetry at age eight to express the pain she and other girls and women experience daily in Afghanistan, such as forced early marriage and denial of basic rights. “I want to be the voice of all women who can never speak up. I want to speak for those who keep their pain inside, and for those whom will get punished and excluded for speaking up”, says Laila.
Afghan Women’s Pain
Thousands of words are captive in their throat
I am a woman, the piece of Farkhunda’s body I am
I am a woman, the generation of aggrieved Farkhunda I am
I have been under violence for years
I am a woman, from the poor, pity generation I am
I am a woman on the awestricken road I am
I am a woman, the generation of Aisha and burnt Farkhunda I am
I have been under perverted eyes for years
I am screaming but nobody hears me, I am a woman
Yeah! The generation of poor Farkhunda I am
This poem is about two Afghan women, Farkhunda and Aisha, whose stories reflect the denial of women’s rights in our country. A crowd wrongly mauled Farkhunda to death after a mullah falsely accused her of burning the Qur’an. After her death, an investigation showed that Farkhunda did not burn the Qur’an”, explains Laila. “Another woman, Bibi Aisha, had her face mutilated by Taliban soldiers as punishment for running away from them after her father traded her to them as compensation for his killing a Talib soldier.
Gloom of a woman has stories
Being a woman in my country is harrowing
Pains of tears after tears, being a woman is harrowing in my country
Afghan women have silent and bitter songs
Their life has thousands of journeys
In my country, how else can women suffer?
This poem explains the overall situation for women in Afghanistan, where violence towards them is still widespread in many places. In fact, too many girls and women in Afghanistan cannot access education or participate fully in society. Being a woman in Afghanistan can be like being a caged bird; we sing sorrowful and sad songs even as some people try to force us to be silent. Any woman in Afghanistan will experience a thousand rough experiences, but still can’t speak about it. Inside, they burn,” explains Laila, who is living with other girls and women who have protection and care in a CWS-managed group home in.
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