As a Transsexual woman, it seems that I can relate to these struggling women. Is my body, my burqa? I don’t intend in any way to take away from the intensity of these women who are incarcerated and their struggle. However their words are powerful and I can relate to them especially the following: My face hidden, I smile unseen; I try to be brave, show my presence, I am invisible, See me; don’t see me, but I am here, take my picture I am a novelty to you. I am a woman who has been incarcerated in the wrong body! I AM JAMIE LEE
As you read these words, I hope it strikes your heart. Could you imagine that if at any given moment, all the burqa’s were removed from these women, how much more divine femininity and beauty would be in the world!
The Afghan Women’s Writing Project http://awwproject.org/discover-awwp/history-mission/
Voices are getting louder and louder,
Those voices that have always been meaningful
Even when no one heard or cared about them
those voices that tear the moon, sun, stars—
The sky screams for the sorrowful voices
the sun spreads their sound everywhere.
The moon smiles for the chattering hearts of women, who always wanted the world to hear. Stars get energy from those voices and shine.
Yes, these are the voices of those desperate and hopeful Afghan women
Who were tomboys in childhood, but when they grew up instead of a pen they got a baby in their hands.
Who were always thirsty to see the world beyond the house.
Who always wanted to take a deep breath in fresh air, but the prison of the burqa became like a part of the body.
Who always tried to have a voice, but were silenced.
Whose dreams remained dreams! For whom tears, grief, and worry were friends.
Who sacrificed their lives for others and never wanted to break hearts.
Who gave everything for the world.
Now from those voices come magic words:
I am proud I am a woman
I am not going to dream anymore; I will make my dreams come true
I am powerful
I challenge the people who hate women.
Woman means life.
Woman means humanity.
Woman means guider.
Woman means ability.
I will show you that one day woman means power!
Life begins with woman!
And, ends with woman!
Is complete with woman!
My face hidden, I smile unseen. It is I
Afghan woman, under burqa.
I try to be brave, show my presence.
See me; don’t see me, but I am here.
I don’t care how hot it is under burqa.
I am invisible.
I am part of my community.
I am here, Afghan woman
under Taliban burqa.
I cannot use chader namaz—
for I will be recognized.
My life threatened if they know
what I do under burqa.
They will make me stop working,
take my job, my life.
But I am an Afghan woman who wants
to stay safe, continue my fight.
Yes, I am brave under burqa,
enslaved in my generation of war.
Banned from education, my illiterate
sisters cannot work.
Some hide, learn in home-based classes,
work today, still at risk.
Foreign women come to see us,
under burqa, take our picture—
we are interesting, novel for them.
They don’t understand
our burqas are jail and safety made of fabric.
We are hidden beneath blue cloth,
confined, yet secure.
I am Afghan woman, working under burqa. We are many
and if there is one, we are all.
Insha’Allah, we will one day
remove the burqa.
Yes, it is I, Afghan woman, under burqa—
Note: chader namaz is a large prayer scarf that covers the entire body.
Insha’Allah is the Arabic term for ” God willing”