Walled Women ISSUE 1: Voices Against Sexual Violence

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Walled Women is a yearly magazine by The Walled City Journal. ISSUE 1: Voices Against Sexual Violence is the work of 41 remarkable contributors, 6 editors, 2 artists, and 4 directors. This Issue is filled with powerful pieces including an interview with Meggie Royer, Editor-In-Chief of Persephone's Daughters.

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WALLED WOMEN

ISSUE 1: Voices Against Sexual Violence

THE WALLED CITY JOURNAL

B Y W O M E N , F O R W O M E N

Cover art by Aiendrila Nandy



WALLED WOMEN

B Y W O M E N , F O R W O M E N

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Art by Kerry-Ann Kerr






Hey Meggie, thank you so much for joining us today. I welcome you to this

interview, would you like to introduce yourself and your journal?

Hi, I am really grateful for this opportunity. So I am Meggie Royer, and I am the Editor-in-Chief of

Persephone’s Daughters. I started the journal about five years ago in 2015; we are a literary and art journal

for domestic and sexual violence survivors. We publish one issue every year with poetry, prose, and art;

most people who are published in our journal are survivors of some form of abuse themselves.

That is truly a great initiative. It must have provided a safe space to hundreds

of writers and artists around the world. I am curious to know what your motive

was in 2015 behind founding the journal?

I experienced sexual violence when I was in college during 2015 and I was also a writer at the time so I

had been writing since high school at that time. I tried looking to see if there were any literary journals

that published work specifically on themes of domestic and sexual violence, but unfortunately I couldn’t

find any. I noticed there is a gap in the community, so on a whim, I just decided to create the journal

because I thought that there were probably many other survivors who wanted a space like this and

couldn’t find it for themselves.

I am sorry to hear about your experience, the work you have done is amazing.

As a creator, you use your art to express yourself. Do you have any advice for

survivors who do not claim the titles of ‘poet’, ‘writer’ or ‘artist’ for example,

but want to pen down their experiences?

I think my advice would be that it can be difficult to write or create art about your experiences but it can

be helpful to journal or create art for yourself first. I think putting it out in a public sphere can be difficult

because the anonymity goes away when you present it to the public, and I think that survivors should

know that it is okay to submit their work anonymously. If you're sending it to a journal, whether it is art

or writing, you don’t have to put it under your name. Some survivors who are publishing in journals start

anonymously, then they gradually become more and more comfortable with their name being out there,

and they might publish it under their name at some point. So, I guess my advice would be to remember

that it is a gradual process to feel comfortable with creating art and writing about your experiences, and

that it is perfectly okay to go at your own pace.

That sounds very practical. So Meggie, you are an author of five books that

discuss womanhood, sexual violence, and healing. Did writing become part of

your journey as an outlet for your emotions, or did it appeal to you just as

much during your academic learning as you mentioned that you were

pursuing writing before you experienced the abuse?

So I started writing in high school when I was about 17 or 18, and I decided to write poetry because it

gradually became more of a passion of mine. When I was in college, I took quite a few English classes and

I considered majoring in English, but I ended up studying Psychology instead. Regardless, it has become a

significant passion of mine and I would say that it has been an outlet to express my emotions related to

being a survivor in particular. One of my poetry collections is all about my experiences with intimate

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partner and sexual violence, and it is much easier for me to write about how I am feeling than saying it

out loud to other people. So I think getting myself to be able to write it out first is something I have found

myself doing over the years - turning to writing as a way express myself when I can’t find words to say.

That's understandable. I would like to ask that the theme of Persephone’s

Daughters’ is overall a sensitive one. With a team of editors and curators,

many of whom identify as survivors of abuse and exploitation, how do you deal

with the content you receive in which the majority of it may be triggering?

We try to make an effort to ask the authors to add trigger warnings to their submissions if they’re able to

do so, and I recognize that different people are triggered by different things so it is not always possible to

encompass everything that might impact someone. We have also been trying to make it clear through

the submission process for the past five years that if someone is not comfortable, if they are not able to

read content about a certain theme, or if they cannot get through a certain piece because it is bringing

too many distressing memories for them, they don't have to go through with it. I would never force

someone to read something that they are not comfortable with. If there is a certain theme that someone

from our team is uncomfortable reading, I would make sure that they are not in charge of reading those

submissions. I don't think it has happened often that readers have been triggered by what they read. It

can sometimes be emotionally taxing, but I do think that it has been outweighed by the fact that we are

able to publish the work of the survivors and share their voices. In my opinion, that makes any

distressing emotion worth it.

That is a great perspective. So besides the general issues of the journal, there

are two other categories: a film division named Girls Don’t Cry and a series

called Sunday Stories. Could you tell us more about them?

Sunday Stories was a series we started a couple of years ago, and we did it for about a year only. It is

discontinued now but it was a weekly series where survivors would submit their stories regarding their

experiences with abuse and we would publish them every Sunday. It was a way for us to share stories

and have them heard in between issues, but we discontinued it about two years ago. Then we have the

film division; I have a good friend named Eliah who is very immersed in the world of film, it was his idea

to create the film division Girls Don't Cry for the journal, and we have run it for several years now. We

open submissions for short films that contain themes of domestic and sexual violence, and previously we

tried to publish films every Friday. Typically the films are about 3-5 mins long, but occasionally we have a

feature-length film. It has been a good outlet for us to have that kind of artistic medium, I don’t think a lot

of journals include films in their submissions but it's our visual way to cover these themes. We try to

integrate art into the journal as opposed to just writing, and the film division is one way we try to do that.

One of the prominent sub-themes of the journal is healing. How would you

define healing?

I would say that healing is not a straight-forward process, and it is not linear by any means. Some people

are never able to fully heal from domestic and sexual violence, and I think that healing works differently

for each person. For me, I think healing is to regain control and power over your own story and being

able to tell your narrative. Violence is about taking control and power away from someone else, so I

believe that survivors begin to heal when they are able to take some of that power back. The way to take

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that power back varies from person to person, but I think that for a lot of the writers and artists who

submit to our journal, part of how they take their power back is by sharing their story. A lot of abuse

involves silencing victim-survivors and stripping them of their stories and identities, so I think the vision is

being able to tell your story, seeing your narrative as the truthful one, and realizing that you have control

over your narrative.

For our audience, if someone wants to become part of the Persephone’s

Daughter’s staff, how can they apply?

Every year, we open up applications for new team members. For next year, it will likely happen in the

summer, so perhaps during July or August 2021. We will publish the open call for applications our

website and social media, so anyone who is interested in being on our team can stay tuned. The process

is not very tedious, it simply involves submitting your resume and filling out a form about why are you

interested in joining the team. We are always looking for new staff members, and because this is a virtual

journal, we can work with anyone in the world.

Persephone's Daughters Website

Meggie's Amazon Store

Meggie's Instagram

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Art by Aiendrila Nandy


PHOTOGRAPHY

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By Lindsey Morrison Grant

Self-identifying as a neurodiverse two-spirit

elder storyteller with deep Pacific Northwest

roots, Lindsey Morrison Grant finds effective

recovery and wellness in meditation, Family

of Choice, artmaking, wordsmithing and

grandparenting.

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By Marcella Green

Marcella Green is a socially engaged artist from Pennsylvania residing in Providence, RI. She works primarily in photography, writing, and socially engaged art

installations. She is the founder of an independent art library and community space called fathom library. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in Creative Writing

and Sculpture from Binghamton University in 2014, a Post Bac Certificate in Photography from MassArt in 2016, and her MFA in Image and Text from Ithaca

College in 2018.

marcellagreen.com

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to barb wires that define our freedom

By Ayesha

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By Wanya Hanif

Wanya Hanif is currently doing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore, Pakistan. She did her O and A levels at the Ravi Campus

of The City School. During her A levels, she participated in several art competitions such as The Little Art's ArtBeat through which she had her work displayed at

NCA for two consecutive years and was awarded a two-week studio workshop with the renowned artist RM Naeem. Additionally, she volunteered for the Lahore

International Children Film Festival in 2019. Wanya views art as a freedom of human expression, and thus expresses herself through various art forms including

photography and editing.

@wanyahanif

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By Neha Ahmed

Neha Ahmed is from Karachi, Pakistan.

@monogrambynay

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By Fire_flames (Faryal)

@fire_flames._

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By Laiba Amir

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Art by Kerry-Ann Kerr


PROSE & FICTION

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Dad’s a secret keeper. His is a cavernous capacity for shame dug in a violent childhood. Even other

people’s ignominy is held deep and cool and sacred. Vigilance leaves no energy for apologies. I don’t hold

them responsible, but I’ve since witnessed the apology made on behalf of tenderness. I see my father pick

up this new sorrow without relieving me of my share, neither of us aware it can go any differently.

Another memory: the priest visits, headed to a retreat deep in the Adirondacks. A young woman, Mary—

how old? I am maybe four, every tall person seems autonomous—accompanies him as his assistant. The

next visit, one of us asks after her.

Who? says Father Jim.

Pre-molestation: the priest sleeps over a weekend. He watches television with my sister while I make

pancakes and coffee in the kitchen, make conversation in the living room and run back and forth while the

parents, upstairs, sleep. A news bulletin of a fire shows a woman talking to a reporter. She’s lost her home.

“Smoking a cigarette, disgusting,” says Father Jim. My brother repeats it later, disgusted with the priest. My

good Catholic brother... I don’t remember him there.

(In that antique house, so many doors, endless alcoves—from the Arabic for ‘vault’—the house disorients,

swallows, spits us out at unexpected exits).

I do remember: feeling smart, discussing philosophy with a priest—until I smell burnt pancakes, blackened

sausages, feel my throat go raw and through the smoke the acrid slap of his disappointment at a ruined

breakfast.

Cheesy move, the change drop, handful of silver and all that. At 11, or 10, I know that to acknowledge his

shower of coins

(limited to what is in his pocket, so brief a rain, and what is that even to say, that there is some more impressive

gesture? But yes, a compounded insult, attempting to shut me up with nickels and dimes, any shiny sum

reparation enough, any linty offering sufficient to sop the shame of abuse by someone so cheap and stupid, who

thought me cheap—but couldn’t trust me to be stupid—no pretense, even, no peeling off a bill or two, for, say,

my music lessons...no, just a sweaty palmful of loose change)

is an act of self-implication, that by rules I can't source, to take his money—or to leave it on the dresser,

untouched, as he walks away—transfers responsibility to my own felt shoulders. He is afraid, even outside

the dark cloak of the Church, and utterly unfingerable.

Why in God’s name not? my mother demands, and he’s a guest at my twelfth birthday party.

She’s too fat for it, he says about the rabbit fur jacket my mother gifts me. It hurt but trust my critically chic

mother to reject fashion tips from a guy in a short-sleeved button-down black shirt with rectory buzz cut.

She looks cheap, he says, and she has me take it off. He’d figured it out, dim as he was. All he

had to do was hate me, and he was safe.

Irene Cooper is the author of Committal, a speculative spy-fy novel from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, and spare change, a poetry collection from Finishing

Line Press. Irene also co-edits The Stay Project. Poems, stories and reviews appear both online and in print.

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When the flesh around your nipples started to swell, you fixed your eyes to the ground everytime you

walked on the street, counting the potholes filled with water. Most nights, the men usually walked by you

in the dark, local gin heavy on their breath. They would grab your wrist asking how old you were, their

bloodshot eyes would drink your shapely body in a slow gaze, pausing at your breasts. They would say in

slurred words that you looked older for your age and need to be shown how it feels to have a man.

Yours was a delicate face. A face with pretty features so wholesome as though it was an artist’s finest work

but your eyes wore nothing behind it— stark. “Honest eyes.” one had said to you with his erection pressed

against your thigh, his eyes thick with lust and malaria yellow.

You still have those night dreams.

Incessant dreams of men with eyes painted a sinister red, bodies sculpted from rock while foreign

pleasures licked your body. When you awoke, your only company was the dull panic till dawn found you.

The first time you told your mother, she applied talcum powder on your face the next Sunday, meek while

Father Stephen prayed for you, casting out the ‘spiritual husband’ whose nightly copulations, he said, you

had wrongly intepreted as sex dreams. Truly, it seemed comical yet you remained silent because perhaps,

you were eager to believe.

When you dropped out of university, the dreams dug into your flesh so you sought men to numb your

edges and prayer houses to heal invisible scars.

You knew your hollowness was a bottomless pit but you nodded as your mother introduced you to

Didiora. You never forgot how she danced at the wedding, her eyes lit and doting. Tall, wiry Didiora whose

love retreats from his eyes when he slaps you hard across your face. A late meal or an unresponsive touch,

even dissent, however subtle, made his eyes bulge and every hit harder than the last.

Your mother begged you to return to your matrimonial home as she nursed your infected wounds. The

night your madness erupted, you were staring at your packed bags, Didiora’s apologies nestled in you,

when the joylessness grew thick on your flesh, filling your pores, so you walked out the door. Hasty words

tucked under your mother’s pillow.

Now, as your body hit the cold surface of the river, you hear a baby’s coo. Your baby boy. Ozoemena. Your

burbling bundle of giggles. As your body fills up, your weight descending, you let out a sigh of prayer.

Protect my boy.

Diana Nnaemeka is a women’s rights enthusiast. She likes to think of herself as a free spirit and lover of worlds in bits. She writes from Enugu, Nigeria and is

currently an undergrad finalist at the University of Nigeria.

@queerling__

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Art by Hannah Denney


POETRY

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And she believed him.

Winter had taught her

to dread loneliness,

so she retracted her boundaries

in half-steps

and began stumbling

backwards ever-falling

—always the one gutted by surprise—

because he learned before she did

that she went the mountain way

of stony-eyed silence and

tense unwelcoming calm

when her first nos

broke as stark and dry

as a distinct snap

in the shadows behind her.

In the mountains,

when you are hunted

you must never run

because running

invites death

clawed and snarling

from on high.

There among the pines

stillness might have saved her.

how many times should

she have to say it?

VII. Once there was a mountain girl

who was felled in a valley

far from home

by a nothingness

newly dug

within her gut—

and afterwards,

she was left alone

with the splintered

open belly of a soul

and a mouth full of iron water

and eyes vacant and staring

at squinting stars

dingy with city-light.

at least when the cat went

he saw lovelier skies

than this.

Taylor Rae is a recently reformed mountain troll who is trying out city living.

She holds her undergraduate degrees in psychology and English literature

from the University of Idaho.

r/shoringupfragments

VI. One night he cleaved into

her, as if to count her rings,

but to him she was

no mountain and all girl

so he shewed her bark

in papery spools

and tossed them on the floor

like they were nothing

like he did not notice

that she was not flesh but wood

that she was daughter of the pines

not meant to be hewn

and hollowed

nor torn unwillingly

from her roots

like this

not like this

not when she’d

told him no.

hadn’t he heard?

hadn’t she said it enough?

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if I had told you when I first found my keys

digging into my hands around him would you

have left me alone with him told

me I was being

“Paranoid”

if I had called for you between hyperventilating sobs on

the cold bathroom floor while trying to stop the pain-erase

the shame would you have come

gently lifted me held me allowed me to

cry or would your anger have screamed for

“Revenge”

Though the only thing he violated of yours was your sense of ownership.

would you have been able to tame your anger and ego if I had called for you while

the pain was still fresh-while my stomach still refused food-while my skin was still burnt by the

shower that couldn’t get hot enough to sear the psychic imprints of his fingerprints off my

bruised skin.

when I couldn’t look at a puppy- flowers- my child, with the soiled eyes he

left me with-the guilt and fear washed eyes he gave me- why should I have

told you then when now that I rally the strength-trust-hope to tell the

only man I have always relied on you say

“You should have told me”

And your anger brings the bruises back to life.

Beulah Vega is a writer, poet and theater artist living in the North Bay Area of California. Her poetry has recently appeared in

The Literary Nest and Fae Dreams. She is still shocked whenever people refer to her as an author – every time.

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Art by Kerry-Ann Kerr


PERSONAL ESSAYS

& ARTICLES

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A common critique of aforementioned studies is that the results are ‘attitudinal’ and not indicative of how

the individual would behave when faced with real-world situations. A more causal and physiological field

experiment by Malamuth and Donnerstein (1981) concluded with the following consistent results by their

sample of people which heavily consumed pornography: men were then more likely to (1) become

desensitised to women, (2) rape women when they had no fear of being caught, (3) were less likely to

believe a woman claiming to have been raped, (4) were less likely to impose stiff penalties on rapists and

(5) exhibit increased aggression towards women.

Without adequate sex education systems in place, pornography permits individuals to accept violent

and/or unhealthy sexual cues. Such sexual scripts are activated and applied due to repetitive conditioning.

Pornographic websites attract more viewership than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. Yet, if they

are spoken about, it is in a furtive tone. Porn is nothing new, nor is the inclination to look at it. It has

become so accessible that it feels harmless. As studies show, however, no one is immune to it. It’s

understandably easier to denounce porn than to abstain from watching it. While present research sheds

light on the importance of considering violent pornography exposure as a potential risk for sexual

violence, it also does not explicitly prove pornography is the blueprint for sexual violence. Regardless, vast

research proves pornography perpetrates sexual deviance and distortion of healthy sexual relationships.

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If you notice any of these warning signs in yourself or someone you know, immediately reach out to

someone you trust. If you notice these symptoms in another person, you should take steps to keep that

person safe.

Prevention:

Do not take drinks from people you do not know

Drink from tamper-proof bottles and cans. Do not drink beverages that you did not open yourself

Do not share or exchange drinks with anyone

Do not take a drink from a punch bowl or a container that is being passed around

Insist on pouring or watching while any drink is mixed or prepared

Do not leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the restroom, or making a phone call

If you realize your drink has been left unattended, discard it

Do not drink anything that has an unusual taste or appearance (e.g. salty taste, excessive foam,

unexplained residue, odd color, or texture)

References and Further Readings:

Substance use and sexual violence. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pcar.org/substance-use-and-sexual-violence

Liebschutz, J., Savetsky, J., Saitz, R., Horton, N., Lloyd-Travaglini, C., & Samet, J. (2002, April). The

relationship between sexual and physical abuse and substance abuse consequences. Retrieved November

03, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4861063/

Alcohol and Sexual Assault. (n.d.). Retrieved November 03, 2020, from

https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh25-1/43-51.htm

The Role of Drugs and Alcohol in Sexual Assault. (2019, November 04). Retrieved November 03, 2020, from

https://www.rehabs.com/alcohol-and-sexual-assault/

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Misconception, misrepresentation and the perpetuation of sexual violence are connected historically.

Our age requires a disconnect.

The Absence of Women from Elizabethan Literature as Depicted by Virginia Woolf

Through the ages, women’s position in the world has remained the subject of much speculation. It is

significant to note that their historical and literary representations have often been fairly exotic, but the

existence of the ideal form of representation - that which takes into account the exact reality faced by

women - is questionable. This results in a dilemma, for if we accept the potential juxtaposition of

women’s reality and their presentation in literary texts, can we really consider Elizabethan literature an

apt depiction of the lives women led?

The answer will vary. The most common way to analyse the representation of women in the Elizabethan

era is through the revered Bard of Avon - conducting a study of William Shakespeare’s prominent works.

Literature has ever presented readers with a vibrant and striking selection of female protagonists, and

perhaps the most renowned thrive in Shakespeare’s works.

The sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries conferred a rich array of leitmotifs through wars, conflicts,

the Catholic Church, discoveries and the pursuit of a prized form of intellect. Shakespeare was thus

afforded a treasure trove of themes to explore when depicting women. However, some are led to doubt

whether this versatile playwright used these to his advantage or instead acquiescently stood by the

accepted ideological reality of his day.

Another question which pervades discussions on the representation of women is this: whose accounts

should we take into consideration for our analysis? Several critical texts have tried to decipher the

portrayal of women in Elizabethan society. One such work is Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s own (1929),

which examines the presentation of the female gender across various centuries. One must, of course,

understand that Woolf’s criticisms and Elizabethan texts are born of vastly different perceptions of the

social and political world due to provenance. A Room of One’s Own set the agenda of modern feminism

rolling and is often viewed as one of the first extended essays to question the near complete absence of

ordinary women from Elizabethan sources.

Woolf took note of this and drew the conclusion that “One knows nothing detailed, nothing perfectly true

and substantial about her (women). History scarcely mentions her.” The scarcity of facts and genuine

accounts (those unadulterated by male influence) was an astonishing intellectual and personal revelation

for Woolf. As per her own findings, the Elizabethan era produced literature based almost solely on men’s

perception of women. Woolf chose G.M Trevelyan’s History of England to continue her research. It offers

rather scant information about women’s position in the community and even goes so far as to suggest

that women have unstable personalities.

In light of her reading, she began to explore a more specific field: the portrayal of women in literature,

especially within sonnets and songs. Her research illustrated how women were primarily shown as a

source of inspiration, i.e. the mysterious muse behind poetic verse.

Shakespeare’s female protagonists such as Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth, though powerful, did not relate

to women’s simultaneously uninspected and restricted reality, both during the Elizabethan Age and in

historical documentation. As described in Woolf’s own words: “She pervades poetry from cover to cover;

she is all but absent from history. She dominates the lives of kings and conquerors in fiction; in fact, she

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was the slave of any boy whose parents forced a ring upon her finger...in real life she could hardly read,

could scarcely spell, and was a property of her husband.”

Woolf then proposed a thought experiment, asking what might have been had Shakespeare had an

equally intelligent sister named Judith. As a male, Shakespeare was allowed to go to school and act at the

London Theatre, but Judith, although witty and interested in the arts and in literature, received no

education. It was not long until she found herself bound to be engaged to a man or else suffer abuse

from her father if she refused. In the continuation of Woolf’s account, she ran away to London where she

was frowned upon when she expressed her desire to pursue her passion, the theatre. Later, she might

have faced sexual abuse and, as a consequence, an unwanted pregnancy. This desolate situation might

even have pushed her to end her life.

By juxtaposing Judith with Shakespeare, Woolf attempts to depict the plight of talented women.

Intelligent female figures were so often taunted and subjected to mental trauma. Needless to say, many

female authors remained anonymous, unacknowledged for their work. Women were subjected to a

forced absence from history and their potential, thus enabling their desires, boundaries and creative

input to be largely and unjustifiably discredited.

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Art by Aiendrila Nandy


ARTWORK

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By Kinza Khan

Kinza Khan is a medical student who likes to paint and photograph. She is still discovering her style.

@starryenderres

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By Adeena Farhan

Adeena Farhan is a medical student and self-taught artist who makes art for the amity of her soul.

@ohadeena

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By Kerry-Ann Kerr


By Aiendrila Nandy

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Dekh magar pyar se

(watercolours)

MOOD

(oil on canvas)

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Distressed

(graphite on paper)

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Tears of Blood

(graphite on paper)

By Wanya Hanif

Wanya Hanif is currently doing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore, Pakistan. She did her O and A levels at the Ravi Campus

of The City School. During her A levels, she participated in several art competitions such as The Little Art's ArtBeat through which she had her work displayed at

NCA for two consecutive years and was awarded a two-week studio workshop with the renowned artist RM Naeem. Additionally, she volunteered for the Lahore

International Children Film Festival in 2019. Wanya views art as a freedom of human expression, and thus expresses herself through various art forms including

photography and editing.

@wanyahanif

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The Walled City Journal | WALLED WOMEN

B Y W O M E N , F O R W O M E N