Freedom to cycle in Kabul’s streets

ZahraRezaee
Posted January 27, 2019 from Afghanistan
Pedaling for change - 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence
I participated in a cycling event with more than 30 girls from different Afghan provinces in recognition of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

I am an Afghan girl. I was born and spent my childhood in Afghanistan, where a girl never lives for herself. Every second of my life is lived for others. I have never been the girl I wanted to be. When I imagine that I am living in a country without any differences between boys and girls, I am sure I could do even the hardest work. In that country, I can ride a bicycle without any hurry in the streets, without worrying that a driver may crash into me intentionally. I won’t have to worry that boys will follow me with their bicycles and harass me until I arrive home. Instead of hearing the disdainful speech of old women, I will hear their encouraging voices celebrating my freedom to cycle in Kabul’s streets. With my newly found freedom, my friends would not be compelled to defend me and other girls from the attacks of our fellow citizens. In a country where all people are educated, I never need to ride my bicycle with the support of a boy in cycling group. I could ride my bicycle freely and comfortably all by myself.

Afghanistan is a country where we can’t easily find smiles and happiness especially among the children. The only thing that I can do for those children is giving them a beautiful smile for a few minutes. In this country, the opportunities that girls miss because of inequalities rob us of the pride that we can give our people. By playing the guitar, I could bring smiles to the lips of child street workers. I passed many difficulties to learn to play the guitar, another innocent pastime that is forbidden for many girls. One day I needed to bring my teacher’s guitar home to use for the street children’s program. I was afraid to carry the guitar in public. Despite many difficulties, I took the guitar. I closed my ears but I could not close my eyes. With every step I took, I feared that people would take the guitar from my shoulder to break or steal. That was the first and last time that I could bring smiles to the lips of children. I wish one day I can take the guitar again and walk in the streets with high self-confidence. When I live in a place like that, I will be happy that no one looks at me strangely and I don’t feel that men are trying to kill me with their eyes or try to stop my breath with their bad sentences.

When I imagine that I am living in a country where I do not have any horror, I believe I can make possible every work for myself and I dream of the moment when I can let my mind think about whatever I want because until now I never let myself think about something new. I won’t have to worry about protecting my body when I get on urban buses. I won’t have to experience the annoying ways that men and boys look at girls, or the risk of physical and psychological harassment. When I leave home, I can think about the activities that I should do during the day, instead of how I should go and come back to home safely. I won’t have to worry about street harassment, or harassment by taxi drivers. I will be able to ride bicycles, play football, ride horses and any kind of fun activity. I am an Afghan girl. I dream of Afghanistan when girls can live their lives for themselves and enjoy the safety and freedom to live joyful, productive lives.

This post was submitted in response to A World Free of Violence.

Comments 9

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Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Thank you my dear sister for this great piece. This is a dream that will come true. Girls indeed deserve to live their lives for themselves and not for others. Thank you for sharing and looking forward to reading more of your stories. Stay blessed.

Fatima Wahab Babih
Jan 28
Jan 28

My dear Zahra,
You have described gender oppression so eloquently in your educative post. Most societies opress women and girls covertly, but in Afghanistan, you are suffering both covert and overt oppressions; the most violent form. But with the consciousness and dreams of young women like you, I am hopeful that things will one day change for the better. Please continue your fight, and nurture your dream and determination to change things for your generation and the next. The Afghanistan you dream of, will one day manifest. Thanks so much for sharing!! May the Almighty keep you and all the girls in your country safe and strong in body, mind & spirit!!

jlanghus
Jan 28
Jan 28

Hi Zahra,

Welcome to World Pulse:-) Thanks for sharing your sad, but powerful words and story. I hear you and I see your vision. You, and all the other women and girls, in your country deserve better... you deserve respect, freedom, security, and happiness. I see this. I'm glad you are using your voice to speak up and be an advocate for change. We need more of this, collectively, in order for change to happen.

I hope you're having a good day.

Good luck with your story submission!

Jane Frances Mufua
Jan 30
Jan 30

Thanks for sharing this post. Gender relations are not static so we can only hope for the best. A journey of a thousand miles begin with a step.

Rachyrae
Jan 30
Jan 30

Inspirational Zahrah. I am glad that you broke thexecutive barrive to lift up others. Welldone.

Beth Lacey
Jan 31
Jan 31

I love your dream!

otahelp
Feb 01
Feb 01

You have wonderful dreams and i am sure you will live to achieve them. the world of Kabul will continue to chink away little by little and some day soon, you will walk freely on the street, ride your bicycle and play guitar and sing to the street children. keep the hope alive my dear girl. i am sure Afghan have come a long way. Congratulations for your bravity and courage of heart. continue to say your mind in this community, we are all together in this

Rahmana Karuna
Feb 05
Feb 05

Zahra, reading your post, sounds like my first post from 5 years ago. Our dreams of women being safe and treated respectfully and lovingly with gentle care. Intentions held with firm belief do come. Thank you for sharing your story with such eloquence.

Adanna
Feb 28
Feb 28

Nice one Zahra! Thank you for sharing.

Love,
Adanna