By an anonymous writer from Afghanistan
My parents wanted a son,
My birth disappointed them.
A few weeks after I was born,
My grandfather was killed.
My mother thought I was bad luck.
When I was 6 years old,
Our neighbor’s boy sexually harassed me.
I spent my childhood in fear.
The Taliban closed my school,
They ruined my best days.
I was unable to go out without my father, brother, and a burqa,
Like a prisoner in my own home for six years.
My body was a sin to them.
They attacked our home a few times because we were Shia Muslim.
They beat my parents and brother in front of me.
They hanged my mother’s two young cousins from a tree.
Deprived of their own humanity, they dehumanized the rest of us.
I had my first marriage proposal at the age of 10.
I saw my cousins getting married at the age of 12, 13, and 14,
While still children, they had to become mothers.
I felt sorry for them and wanted to help them.
I had to break this harmful custom and inequality
I started to fight against child marriage.
I thought coming to the United States would give me the freedom to take on this responsibility.
I thought I could contribute to an America that would fight for women’s equality.
I imagined America as a country free from injustice.
The most powerful country and the land of dreams,
But reality hit me on my first day.
I was harassed and bullied for looking different.
My faith, accent and scarf put me in a minority category.
I was asked so many ignorant questions,
Have you seen Osama bin Laden? Do you wear shoes in Afghanistan?
And I started to feel unsafe.
I dedicated my life to help women and girls,
Especially the ones who have tough lives like mine.
But it is not an easy task.
The more I learn about social justice and human rights,
The more I become disgusted and disappointed.
I am 26 years old and already tired.
Tired of seeing my country used as a playground for global powers,
Tired of seeing my countrymen getting killed every day,
Tired of hearing about women who have been raped,
Tired of seeing orphans and refugees,
Tired of discrimination against people like me, and people unlike me,
Tired of seeing racism and bigotry in a country that claims it can teach justice to others,
Tired of inhumanity.
But I will not give up.
I will keep fighting for my life and for the lives of others.
I survived for a reason:
To make a difference and to see peace and justice for all.
If I don’t speak up, if we choose silence now,
There will be no end to violence, racism and sexism.
I will use my voice and my pen to bring justice.
Photo Credit: Janko Ferlic