Afghan female rapper: “I’ve received threats, but won’t stop”

Afghan rap duo 143.
 
 
“I wanted to run and they hit me on the back; I wanted to think and they hit me on the head; they burned my face in the name of Islam, cut my nose for revenge; poured acid on my hands and body; sold me because I am only a woman”  --  these are the daring lyrics of a song by rap duo 143, whose singer Paradise Sorouri was the first female Afghan rapper.
 
Paradise and her fiancé, Diverse, who make up 143, are both Afghans born in Iran, but moved back to Herat in Afghanistan in their late teenage years. After singing about love and other rather tame subjects, they moved to Tajikistan in 2010, where they started writing songs about violence against women. Today, they tour in Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
 
Music video for the song "Nalestan."
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“All female artists who work in Afghanistan today are risking their lives so that they can pave the way for other women”

Paradise Sorouri, 24, is considered to be the first female Afghan rap singer.
  
 During the three years that Dairos and I were working in Herat, I realized that there was a lot of violence and discrimination against women. In Afghanistan’s highly patriarchal society, if a woman has a job, she is looked down upon and will definitely be subjected to vulgar language. So just imagine what it is like for artists. Most people consider female artists as nothing more than prostitutes. All female artists who work in Afghanistan today are risking their lives so that they can pave the way for other women.
 
This was one of the reasons we decided to move to Tajikistan. After our move, we continued to follow the news about violence against women back in Afghanistan and in 2010 decided to write a song about this issue. When we first released ‘Cry of the Woman’, which talked about the daily problems that women deal with, I received very positive feedback in cyberspace.
  
Music video for "Cry of the Woman". 
 
Two years later, we decided to do another song about women, this one about violence against them, called “Nalestan”. We started receiving many threatening messages ordering to stop our work. But we won’t stop.
 
Rap duo 143.
  
“The situation for women in Afghanistan has been improving, but only in large cities”
 
We have toured both in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and have performed at six concerts in Kabul so far. Fortunately, we have been received very warmly. At our most recent concert, a small part of the audience started insulting us when we performed ‘Cry of the Woman’. But for the most part we’ve been treated well.
 
Since the Taliban left power, the situation for women in Afghanistan has improved, but only in large cities like Kabul, Mazar Sharif and Herat. And the majority of Afghanistan’s population does not live in these few cities. Every day we hear new stories about violence against women, forced marriages at very early ages and all sorts of other abuse. We still have a long way to go. 
 
Despite Afghan women’s efforts to participate in public life, female artists are often threatened by religious radicals. Female politicians face increasing threats, too – and are regularly murdered. According to the United Nations, more than 87 percent of Afghan women have experienced some form of violence. Many actors of Afghanistan’s civil society fear that their situation may get worse if the US drawdown leads the Taliban to return to power.
 
Paradise in the studio.
 
Post written with freelance journalist Omid Habibinia.

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