-Humayra Atia Hadiqa Rashid, London

Do you remember, fellow human?
When women couldn’t vote?
When we raised our daughters,
For the sole purpose of marrying off.

Do you remember, fellow human?
When women couldn’t wear trousers?
When women were shamed,
For walking past alone, beside an outsider.

Do you remember, fellow human?
When women were poor?
They were sent alone,
For predators to violate their souls.

Do you remember, fellow human?
When our mothers were hurt?
But being assaulted by family,
Was just another integral part.

Do you remember, fellow human?
When women were born?
Our fathers and mothers grieved,
For the non-existing lost son.

Do you remember, fellow human?
When women couldn’t read?
Because women were only worthy of being maids and sex objects,
Not literate human beings.

Dear human, although these seem like,
Issues of the past.
They are still lurking in the present,
Just surfacing with a different touch.

Today our women can vote,
Pursue careers, wear trousers,
Walk alone, choose their partners,
Except, they cannot entirely.

Now don’t get me wrong.
I am more than happy
To live in a society,
Where women are humans too,
At least, to majority.

But when our women go to work,
We don’t care that she works just as hard,
We will pay her less, even in the west,
Because she is a woman, so she is worth less.

And when our women walk alone,
The least of us will look for opportunity,
To harass her mercilessly, treat her inhumanly
Then shout ‘can’t take a compliment, this w***e!’

What is it with the acid?
She said no, respect it.
Did her ‘no’ crush our superior self-belief?
That we need to destroy her to restore it?

Even in the west, rapists walk free.
Because victims are to blame,
For being ‘provocative’
Clearly, they were asking for it!

When we look outside the west,
Or perhaps even within it,
We can see the restrained tears on our daughters
Who are still being forced into marriage.

When it comes to what our women wear,
We are not satisfied with bikini or burka.
One is revealing, the other is oppressing,
So we must tell them how to be liberating.

When our women decide
To become stay at home mothers,
We frown upon their decisions
And refuse to appreciate their contributions.

Perhaps, we forget.
A spectrum goes both ways.
And women are individuals,
With their own strength and choices.

To people that oppress women,
In the name of God.
Why is it that educated scholars,
Speak for values of feminism?

When we talk about feminism,
It’s not to demean or mimic our men;
Because men can oppress both men and women
And so can women oppress both women and men.

So when we talk about feminism,
It’s for our rights to be respected as humans.
To choose our goals, follow our faiths.
To voice our opinions, live without the chains.

When we fight for the voices of our women
That lack their basic human rights;
We liberate a society, progress as humanity,
Which serves both our men and women,
Humanity in its entirety.

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