Recently, three Muslim teenage girls from India–Aneeqa Khalid, Noma Nazir, and Farah Deeba–started a rock band called Praagaash, which means “from darkness to light.” They were the only female band in the national Battle of the Bands in the Kashmiri capital of Srinagar this past December. The band quickly received a lot of attention, but soon afterwards, their situation took a turn to the worse.
Mónica Roa is a human rights defender and the Program Director of Women’s Link Worldwide (WLW), an NGO promoting Gender Justice in Columbia. This is a letter written for Amnesty International’s annual Write #4rights campaign, by youth blogger Sofia- calling for Sr. Presidente Santos to address the violence, threats and intimidation that WLW has received because of it’s work with reproductive rights.
Even though her spiritual orientation was very different from my own – she devoted her life to the worship of the Hindu deity Krishna and I am a Muslim (and a secular one at that), but I was magnetically drawn to how she very practically invited in the presence of the divine in her everyday life through a disciplined devotional practice.
As a result, because she is a female rapper in Afghanistan, some people call her on the phone and threaten to spray acid in her face. Her father gave up his job to protect her, because he was worried that his daughter was going to get hurt on her way to the studios every day. Even worse, because she does all these things and breaks the social norms in Afghanistan, some people in her own family have disowned her.
In the last few years that my mother lived in Afghanistan, the Taliban were on control. She was forced to quit college, and her education was ended in Afghanistan. When I heard about Malala, it made me think about what also happened to my mother, and how she was forced to do something she did not want to do.
At the age of 11, when I grumbled about doing homework, Malala voiced her views on women’s education, blogging anonymously to the BBC about life under the Taliban. She experienced the horrors of having the very thing that guaranteed her freedom of mind, slowly leeched away by extremists.