We are like seized birds
Without an identity
Called mother, sister, wife
Lips sealed
Voices stifled
Cannot speak without a man’s permission

Surrounded by walls
Our voices, our bodies
The way we walk and talk
Are said to make men lose control
Lead men on the road to hell
While we suffer in the delivery room

He is outside praying for a son
If it’s a girl,
He will pick the husband
A husband who will divorce her
Unless she obeys him
Our husbands can marry as often as they want

Wives and girlfriends and secret affairs
But you must be modest,
Hidden from strangers
You can’t express love without fear
He can judge
You are seen as mooncalf

He can go anywhere
You can go nowhere
You are valued as property, like a garden
He can force you morning and night
You are a seized bird
Let us hold hands

You may get free in the other world
Be here our value is only as wife and mother
Not as woman

By Sitara

Photo: Eric Kanalstein / UNAMA