The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 and many Afghans still live in fear of the group’s violent reign. To hide their crimes and curb critical reporting, The Taliban would threaten, intimidate and physically harm members of the media or their families in areas where they had influence. They were known to detain and harass journalists, in particular female journalists and those who opposed the group. These tactics made for little transparency in their governing. Shiite Muslims are also fearful that a return of the Taliban will mean a return to the brutal persecution they suffered in previous decades.
The women of Afghanistan also wait and worry as the Taliban enforce the Islamic law Shari'a, their strict interpretation of the Koran. It is well known, if the rules are not followed there are often severe punishments. In previous years, the Taliban barred women from working outside the home or attending school, they were required to wear the burqa and when outside they had to be accompanied by a male relative. The freedoms of women were of little consideration.
When the Taliban’s rule ended there were small revolutions in the lives of women regarding education, work, and social freedoms, though outside of cities women continued to endure restrictions and violence. Now with the exit of American forces and the quick demise of the Afghan government, the civilians that remain fear a return of the old days.
While we listen to the news and watch images of chaos, women in Afghanistan are hiding, afraid to leave their homes. It is important for us to understand their words and feel what is in their heart. In some way we need to lift their voices and never allow their sentiments to be forgotten.
Load Poems Like Guns translated by Farzana Marie
This collection of contemporary poetry by Afghan women is a rarity and so important at this time. These poets help give a better understanding of Afghanistan history, specifically Herat, an ancient and important city in Afghan literature and art. Additionally, the translations are accompanied by the original Persian Dari text and notes regarding the process.
Frazana Marie is a Ph.D. candidate in Middle Eastern literature at the University of Arizona and has translated the poems of these eight women with great care. She served as an active duty officer for over six years including two years of deployed service in Afghanistan. She is president of Civil Vision International, a nonprofit focusing on influencing international relationships.