art of resistance, Pakistan

Kishwar Naheed: Pakistan’s greatest sinful Woman.

It is we sinful women 
who are not awed by the grandeur of those who wear gowns

who don’t sell our lives
who don’t bow our heads 
who don’t fold our hands together.

It is we sinful women
while those who sell the harvests of our bodies
become exalted
become distinguished 
become the just princes of the material world.

Kishwar Naheed (Urdu: کشور ناہید), Sitara-e-Imtiaz is an Urdu poet from Pakistan known for her pioneering feminist poetry. Born in 1940 in a Syed family of Bulandshahr, India, Kishwar was a witness to the violence (including rape and abduction of women) associated with partition, and herself moved with her family to Pakistan in 1949.

large-Kishwar Naheed reads her poetry

Kishwar Naheed

Kishwar had to fight to receive an education at a time when women did not go to school; she studied at home and obtained a high school diploma through correspondence courses. Poetry beacame her path to self-determination and independence, and soon she was regarded as an iconoclast, a reputation that she has maintained. She has been a passionate champion not only of the feminist movement, but of the struggle for economic and social justice in Pakistan in general.

It is we sinful women 
who come out raising the banner of truth
up against barricades of lies on the highways
who find stories of persecution piled on each threshold
who find that tongues which could speak have been severed

It is we sinful women.
Now, even if the night gives chase
these eyes shall not be put out.
For the wall which has been razed
don’t insist now on raising it again.

She was the Director General of Pakistan National Council of the Arts before her retirement. She also edited a prestigious literary magazine Mahe naw and founded an organisation Hawwa (Eve) whose goal is to help women without an independent income become financially independent through cottage industries and selling handicrafts.

Her poetry has been translated into English and Spanish and her famous poem We Sinful Women (featured through this post) gave its title to a ground breaking anthology of contemporary Urdu feminist poetry translated and edited by Rukhsana Ahmad published in London by The Women’s Press in 1991.

It is we sinful women
who are not awed by the grandeur of those who wear gowns

who don’t sell our bodies
who don’t bow our heads
who don’t fold our hands together.

Read more about Kishwar and her work on TheFridayTimes. I recommend her poems Talking to myself, The grass is really like me, A palace of wax, Anticlockwise, Censorship… For starters. But – read more and read them all -she’s amazing.

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5 thoughts on “Kishwar Naheed: Pakistan’s greatest sinful Woman.

  1. Is this your photo interview with my mentor Maam Kishwar? How did you like meeting her? Do you have other photos of her, why don’t we write a collaborative photo-narrative post on her? That is if your interested…!

    • Unfortunately, not my photo. I only read about her and read her work, hope to meet her in person one day 🙂
      It would be great if we would be able to meet and do things together, I see that you and I have a lot of similiar interests!

      all the best to you in the meantime and keep on sharing your thoughts 🙂

  2. A writer from the East says:

    Greetings, I hope you are well? I was wondering if I can nominate your blog for the sisterhood of the world bloggers award? I really admire your work and this blog since long, and we have also been discussing a lot of mutual subjects 🙂 Please let me know if that would be okay?

    • Hi dear, I know nothing about blog awards and nominations, but if you feel that I deserve that nomination, then – sure, you can do it. Thank you so much for your presence and your support.

  3. A writer from the East says:

    Hey, its a pleasure and I have published the post where you can find your nomination details for the award. Please check it out and here’s to continued solidarity among bloggers 🙂

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