Egyptian society is full of unrevealed stories of women who are oppressed, forced into living in an inhuman circumstances, and subjected to different types of violence and assaults. Stories that “Bent Al-Masarwa” female band aims to voice through their songs. Believing that music is their only way to express their thoughts and anger towards the society the oppress women, “Bent Al Masarwa” band is launching a fund raising campaign aiming to produce their second Album.
The campaign aims to collect 12000$ in order to introduce the album, titled “Mazghuna” to light. The album consists of 10 songs which describe Egyptian women in conservative societies, and the conditions they have to live under, which are usually in fair.
Through 3 workshops that the three band members conducted in villages in Upper Egypt, Marina Samir, Mariam Samir and Esraa Saleh heard hundreds of stories of Egyptian females who have been subjected to different forms of oppression starting from poverty, sexual assaults reaching young- age marriage.
The campaign started Auguest 6, and so far it managed to collect more than 2000$ with the hopes that it manages to collect the whole amount before it ends at September 17.
“Each song of the album tells a story of the many heart touching ones we have been shared with 34 women who only seek their voice to be heard ad their stories to be told” Marina Samir told Daily News Egypt, “each workshop lasted for about a week in different unprivileged villages of Assuit, Aswan and Mineya [all located Upper Egypt]”.
It didn’t take much of effort of the ladies to open their hearts and share their shocking stories, leading the three women into a storm of overwhelming ideas that lead into 18 final songs, from which they picked the final 10.
The album is entitled with the name “Mazghuna”, a word that belongs to ” Abu-Ghreir” village in El Minya governorate, where the first and biggest workshop took place. In their culture, “Mazghuna”, means “Mazghuda” which means the woman who was punched and silenced or “Masjuna” which means an imprisoned woman.
“We had the feeling that the name was perfectly expressing the whole experience, and stems from it,” the band commented in their account on Indiegogo, a fund-raising website.
Fund-raising in order to make their dream come true, seems to be the only option for the band to keep voicing other women’s stories to to world, especially because they face difficulties with producing houses.
“Most of the producers do not easily accept our lyrics or music, so we end up negotiating on an output that we totally love and accept the way it is. That’s why we thought that producing our own songs is the best way to do it” Samir explained.
While some look at the songs’ lyrics as shocking, the members assure they are not even close to the real stories women shared.
From the stories they heard, was the one belongs to a woman who was married at the age of 13, and her husband left her as a widow only one year after their marriage with one kid, “she had no access to education, or any potential to remarry again especially that her in laws forced her to live with them in order to keep paying for their living expenses” Samir said.
Another story belongs to a female who only dreamed of continuing her education until she graduates from collage, however, because the village she lives at has no school, she had to travel everyday into the nearest school. Something that her parents prevented believing that it’s “shameful” for a girl to step outside her residency area, and she will never get married if people knew that her parents allowed her to do that. On the other side, her brother was allowed to continue his education until the end and to travel just because he is a man.
“The stories were heart breaking, we all shared the same misery, however, each on a different level” Samir added.
The band was firstly established at on of creative writing workshop for Nazra, a feminist studies center. After they wrote their first song together, the three girls decided to keep going as an independent singing band that states the reality of Egyptian women in songs.
In their first Album, they wrote about oppressing families who force their daughters into young marriage and prevent them from proper education. In one of their songs, “Oulo le Abouha” (Tell Her Father), the girls tackle the issue of virginity singing “Tell her father that her honour does not lay between her legs”.
Other than donating money, the band seeks their cause to be heard and to gain as much publicity as possible, with the hashtag of #FeministsSinging, they share their dreams of being those who fight oppressing through singing.