Dear Readers,

The Afghan Women’s Writing Project is pleased to begin our participation for a fifth year in the global Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign from Nov. 25 through Dec. 10—International Human Rights Day.

Our first piece for this campaign is My Heart Hurts by S Anonymous, a young working woman and student who writes on behalf of the thousands of Afghan women whose voices are not heard—they are not heard in their own families, their communities, or by the government of their country. With this year’s stoning of young Rukhshana in northern Afghanistan last month and the mob beating death of Farkhunda in March in Kabul, she has plenty of evidence to make her case that even in 2015 the plight of women is dismal. She writes:

This is not just the story
Of Farkhunda in Kabul
Rukhshana in Ghor

This is the story of thousands
Of women in Afghanistan
Their government does not listen or help

Each day we will post a new poem or essay written for this campaign by one of our more than 100 writers.

Some highlights from the first few days of this campaign.

In It Is a Frightening Life in a Patriarchal Society” Shekiba, an educated writer who grew up during the war in Afghanistan, asks “Have you ever thought about what it is like to live in a patriarchal society?”

She answers:  “In my country, men can cut the noses and ears off their wives and go without punishment.”

In For Rukhshana!, Pari, a young mother, gives her interpretation of the unthinkable stoning sentence issued by the religious mullahs in northern Afghanistan. Videos surfaced of the stoning and led to a tremendous public outcry.

Writes Pari:

The mullahs in the mosques
Committing sexual abuse in the corners
Blame their sins and faults on you

We watch those mullahs
We hear
Your screams Rukhshana

Writing has been edited for clarity and length.

Susan Postlewaite, Editor-in-Chief

This space will be updated daily through International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2015. 
Please take a minute and consider leaving a comment for a writer.

  1. My Heart Hurts, by S Anonymous
  2. It Is a Frightening Life Living in a Violent Patriarchal Society, by Shekiba
  3. For Rukhshana! by Pari
  4. Educating Afghan Girls Who Dream Big Dreams, by Fahima
  5. The Short Life of Khadija Who Was Forced to Marry, by Sveto
  6. Many Sides to Gender Violence in Afghanistan, by Shogofa Az.
  7. No Honor in Honor Killing, by Marzia
  8. Girls Walking Home, by Sumaia
  9. Welcome My Baby, by Manizha
  10. For Rukhshana, by Shekiba
  11. We Are Human, by S Anonymous
  12. Seized Birds, by Sitara
  13. Four Brothers Sell Their Sister for $20,000, by Leeda
  14. Change for Mariam, Change for Women, by Fariba H.
  15. My Tired Voice Grows Loud, by Shala

Photo: Eric Kanalstein / UNAMA