Meet Soosan Feroz, Kabul's woman rapper seeking reason in rhymes

Undeterred by threats, Soosan Feroz sings of rape and other abuses in her war-torn nation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 January, 2013, 9:29am


Sporting a long leather coat and jeans as well as a headscarf, Soosan Feroz looks like many modern women in Kabul.

But she is a surprising new phenomenon in this conservative Islamic country - the nation's first female rapper.

The subjects of her lyrics though are painfully familiar - she raps of rape, abuse and atrocities that Afghan women have endured during decades of war in a country gripped by poverty.

"My raps are about the sufferings of women in my country, the pains of the war that we have endured and the atrocities of the war," Feroz said in the office of a local company that is helping her record her first album.

Like most fellow Afghans, the 23-year-old said her life was filled with bitterness - memories of war, bombing and a life at refugee camps in neighbouring Iran and Pakistan.

She was taken to Pakistan as a child by her parents and later to Iran, escaping a bloody civil war at home in 1990s.

Two years after the 2001 US-led invasion of her war-scarred nation that toppled the Taliban, the then-teenager returned home with her family.

She worked as a carpet weaver with her other siblings until she discovered her new talent.

Feroz said: "If rap singing is a way to tell your miseries, Afghans have a lot to say. That's why I chose to be a rapper."

She recalled her woes at Iranian refugee camps in her first recorded piece of music, Our Neighbours, which has been posted on YouTube and viewed nearly 100,000 times:

What happened to us in the neighbouring country?

We became 'the dirty Afghan'

At their bakeries we were pushed at the back of the queue.

Millions of Afghans still live in Iran and Pakistan, which together hosted about seven million refugees after the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Feroz (also transliterated as "Firooz") was too young to remember the bloody battles of the 1980s between the Russian soldiers and freedom fighters known as mujahideen but her first song is full of war tales.

One the lines proclaims: We went to Europe for a better life [but] in refugee camps we rotted.

Afghan pop star Farid Rastagar has offered to help the young artist release an album. Its first single will be released this month.

One of the songs is called Naqis-Ul Aql, which can be translated as "deficient-in-mind"- a common assessment of women by Afghan men. "In this rap, she sings about the miseries of the women in Afghanistan, about abuses and wrong beliefs that still exists about women," according to Rastagar.

Afghan women have made some progress since the fall of the Taliban but many still suffer horrific abuse including so-called honour killings for percieved sexual disobedience.

Feroz has already made scores of enemies, not only among conservatives but within her own family.

Her parents support her singing, but after her first song was released on the internet, Feroz's uncles and their families shunned her, accusing her of bringing shame on them.

Anonymous callers have threatened to kill her.

"What's my fault?" she asked. "I always receive phone calls from unknown men who say I'm a bad girl and they will kill me," she said, her dark eyes welling with tears.

Her father, former civil servant Abdul Ghafaar Feroz, said he prided himself on being her "personal secretary".

"I'm not deterred," Feroz said, as her father nodded his head in agreement as he sat beside her. "Somebody had to start this, I did and I don't regret it and I will continue. I want to be the voice of women in my country."