I write this poem for women who are victims of wrong cultural and religious beliefs. —Mahnaz

We were cooked.
They made us raw,
burned us and buried us. Those
men and women who carry the
stick in their hands,
gaze of blame in their eyes,
sting of insult from their tongues, they
set fire to our wisdom, then
called us ignorant!
        Siasar !
        Naqisul Aql !
They use our love for others as an
excuse to tell us we are
weak in faith, too emotional for
a prophet, imam, judge, or leader. They
betray us by twisting our nature to use against us,
then call us Najis. Nasty. Unclean.
They make a hammer from religion,
pound us in the head,
fool us with hell. We question
injustice and they tell us we
breach the quality of life so we are
infidel. We ask for equality and they
call us impious, deviant.

They use our body, then
mock our beauty and call us weak.
They use our fairness to sell our soul, to
crush our dignity. They are individual
men and women who hold
tight to their ways by telling us we are
unequal. This is how they enforce
wrong cultural beliefs.

They are wrong.
We are not infidel.
We are different but equal.
We are women
Strong in our faith and ability.

By Mahnaz


Siasar: Black head. Men say this to undermine women, to make them an object of pity.
Naqisul Aql: It means someone who has incomplete wisdom. An Arabic word used mostly for women.
Najis: Ritually impure or unclean. For example, blood and urine are najis.

AWWP’s writing is being shared with Bell Bajao’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign in 2013.