Dear Readers,

The Afghan Women’s Writing Project is pleased to begin our participation for a fourth 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 Society Looks Like Jail to Me” by Beheshta, a Kabul writer who reports how despite years of war and the ongoing suicide bombing attacks in the streets, it is ordinary people in ordinary families who are responsible for perpetuating gender violence.

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

Some highlights:

— In “Voices from Jalalabad,” you will find five poems by women who gathered for a writing workshop in Nangarhar province last weekend. One writer, Majabeen, tells us:

I hear the voice of the four-year-old who was raped
I hear her cries and shouts for help
She didn’t even know the world

— Oral Stories from illiterate women speaking out on gender violence. Writers in five provinces went into the streets to interview and record the stories, which have been transcribed and translated into English for readers.

Bebe Gul, a 44-year-old school guard in Mazar E Sharif, tells writer Humaira G.:

I get in a panic sometimes. I really feel sorry for being an Afghan woman. In our own country, gender violence is increasing, although the government is trying to control it.

— Essays exploring the causes and offering solutions to gender violence. In “Cradle of Violence,” Pari writes:

We step toward freedom when many of us—you, my dear sister—join us in the fight. Then my dear country Afghanistan will no longer be the worst place for women, but a good place for Afghan women to live.

Writing has been edited for clarity and length.

Susan Postlewaite, Director of Editing

This space will be updated daily through International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2014.

  1. My Society Looks Like Jail to Me, by Beheshta
  2. Cradle of Violence, by Pari
  3. Oral Stories Project: Help Raise Our Voice, by Hamida as told to Leeda
  4. Misunderstanding Rape, by Marzia
  5. Oral Stories Project: Never Give Up, by Bebe Gul as told to Humaira G.
  6. Voices from Jalalabad, by five Jalalabad writers
  7. Oral Stories Project: I Give My Daughters Happiness Now, by Korari as told to Sayara
  8. Oral Stories Project: The Story of My Family Is Gender Violence, by Naijba as told to Humaira G.
  9. Gender Divide, by Masooma
  10. How Culture Leads to Gender Violence, by Asma
  11. Oral Stories Project: Gender Violence Is Increasing, by Sanobar as told to Sayara
  12. Oral Stories Project: A Girl Is Denied Medical Treatment, by Sadiqa as told to Safia
  13. Oral Stories Project: The Nonsense Talk Creates Violence, by Raihana as told to Leena
  14. Oral Stories Project: Two Wives, by Shabana as told to Leena
  15. It Could Be Me, by Leena
  16. It Hurts Me, by Sayara

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