When she closed her eyes,
They said, if you open them,
We will wash them with acid.

When she opened her mouth,
They said, if we hear you laughing,
You will be suffocated.

When she raised her hand,
To ask why being a woman is a crime,
She was met with brutality.

This is neither a poem nor a nightmare,
This is my life and that of many other women,
Who are living under the weight of violence.

They forced me to wear a burqa
When I was barely a teen.
They said it was for my protection,
Still they stared at me like wolves.
I could not see under the blue cloth,
I slipped and fell.

I was livid,
But the shopkeepers laughed at me,
“Watch your step,” they said.

I heard their laughter,
And watched as they laughed at me.
But I will not be silenced.

I will write every single day.
So that my life will be a lesson and my fight, a reason not to give up.

Zahra Wakilzada is a high school student and a member of Free Women Writers. She is a writer and poet who writes in Persian and English and an advocate for gender equality and justice.

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