Friday, July 21, 2006

I am Woman - Celebrate Me

I am Woman - Celebrate Me
By Rachel Raza

From the ashes of Afghanistan
Where you bombed my home and trapped me in a tomb of dust I am the woman who has risen up like the phoenix
Protected by my burqa - which you see as a symbol of oppression
This tattered cloak - is my only protection
from the mortar and shells
that you gift to my land – as you turn it into a living hell
I shatter the bonds, reach out my hand and
gather the wounded and weeping women of my nation,
Stepping over the blood of our children as I teach them to say “no more”
No more - will we be pawns in the games of political power
No more will we cower
We’ll find ways to alleviate our ignorance

I am the woman from a village in Pakistan
where they threw acid in my face because their honour was at stake
Battered, bullied and bruised – I suffered great pain
But the damage they have done has only fired my resolve
to never let them make MY honour, THEIR gain;
I forced the courts to hear my case and took others like me
Caught in the vicious circle of male violence and frenzy
in trying to dehumanize us
My disfigured face has empowered me;
the cries of my sisters have given me strength in my own strength
I won’t be cowed down by cowardly acts
I have found my path and will never return to the fetters of slavery
I ask for no accolades for my bravery

I am a mother from the Middle East
Step-by-step trying to build bridges of peace
Surrounded by bloody hell
where every shell
has the name of an innocent bystander;
I am Christian, Muslim and Jew
I bleed the same as you
I am wife, sister, friend and daughter
But our lives are devoid of any laughter
When our children leave home,
we are uncertain if they will ever return

I am a woman of the street where I’m forced to sell my body
part by part to the highest bidder – like a commodity
to those masters of the flesh trade who don’t know
that we are women – we have a heart
and a soul that is torn apart
when we are used and abused like pieces of flotsam
set afloat on the sea of time with no end in sight
We’re just a statistic on the pages of her-story
Not for the unequal wages we were paid
Or fighting the laws that are man-made
But - for being the principal victims of AIDS

I am the Muslim woman who came to this land
many moons ago
I couldn’t speak the language, I’d never seen snow
I was alone and afraid with no where to go
for help, for advice about my woes
they scoffed at my head-scarf, my faith
my accent and the colour of my skin –
I felt forsaken
Yet I weathered all this on my own
I cried but I survived – thankful to be alive
In this land of the free
But are we ever truly free?
Today I am a victim again –after the terror of 9/11
My windows shattered, my mosque desecrated
It’s ironical - but I am told this turmoil is created
by the very people who wish to liberate me

Most of all I am a woman like the rest of you
Privileged for the chance to share in solidarity
As I build the courage to stand up and speak out
against atrocities heaped upon us
Breaking the bonds of cultural and social fanaticism to forge
a special bond with my sisters
In breaking the silence, I reach out across barriers of
Race and religion – in the one cause that binds us together
Our feminine souls intertwined with the souls of many others
They were women - therefore they died