Afghan women poets in the shadow of patriarchy
KABUL (Pajhwok): Some female poets voice concerns about the deep negative impact of cultural restrictions and patriarchy on their verses.
They believe the prevalent customs and self-censorship have placed women poets in a difficult position and even if they tried to express their true feelings in poems, they would face thinly disguised misogyny.
Sita Habibi is one of the female poets. She said some women after writing their poetry used to hide them in notebooks, fearing cultural problems.
Habibi, who also heads the “Afghan Women Writers,” told Pajhwok Afghan News people in Kabul were open-minded to some extent.
“But in districts if one asks about women poets, they get the answers like “there is no female poet here… but those who wash clothes and dishes.”
Habibi, an author herself, said: “The time requires us to support women. Talented women should be permitted to express themselves.”
She said she had been writing poetry for years and currently owned a collection of 70 poems.
Some women in provinces cite patriarchy as a major impediment on their way to gaining empowerment.
Arzo Rezaee, a female poet in central Bamyan province, said she always wished to reflect the pain of Afghan women in her works, but feared a backlash from the society.
She said she used to hide her poetic work from her father and brothers since they could physically abuse her.
She said women poetry in Bamyan was in a bad condition, otherwise they were eager to reflect women’s challenges through their poetry. She demanded an association for women poets with the ability and permission to assemble.
Yahya Roshany, another poet, said she started writing poems in her adolescence when she became familiarised with Hafiz’s poetry and books at her local mosque. “Although it was very difficult for a 10-year-old to understand Hafiz’s poems, but I enjoyed reading his sonnets. It paved the ways for me also to write poems.”
She said: “poetry is for expressing those feelings that humans cannot express in any other form.”
Roshany’s book, a collection of her poems, has been published and she is working to complete her second book.
“The books being published nowadays have not been evaluated by any agency and there are no criteria which books be published,” she said, adding everyone published books according to their own taste with less focus paid to the contents.
She said many associations had been formed in this regard but no tangible work done to improve things.
Without going into details, Deputy Information and Culture Minister Musdaq Khalili said his ministry was trying to improve the situation of women poets.
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