This book provides a first-hand account of daily life in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Latifa (a pseudonym made necessary by death threats to the author and her family members) lived with her family in a middle-class area of Kabul. Her country had been at war her entire life. Over the years, Latifa and her family members struggled to be apolitical just so they could survive the frequent regime changes. One of her brothers served in the army under the Soviets, only to become a political prisoner under the regime; another was sent to university in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on a Soviet scholarship. When the Taliban took over Kabul, Latifa found herself virtually imprisoned in her apartment, forbidden by the Taliban from attending the university where she had just passed her entrance exams. Her sister had been an airline stewardess and her mother a doctor, but both were forbidden from continuing their professions. Her father was a businessman, whose Kabul warehouses were being continually destroyed in battle.
In this book, Latifa describes daily life for her family after the Taliban took control. She describes listening to edicts on the radio, forbidding women from working and girls from going to school. Women and girls were also not allowed to be treated by male doctors, and since women doctors were forbidden from practicing, this effectively shut half the population out from being able to receive any kind of health care. Women had to be covered from head to toe if they were to go out in public, and they had to be escorted by a male relative. On one of the few times Latifa dared go out of her apartment for a walk, she witnessed a horrific beating of women whose feet were covered but who had committed the apparently reprehensible crime of wearing the wrong color shoes.
At the beginning of her story, Latifa is an ordinary teenager, excited with fancy dresses and movie stars. But as the years go by, and she finds herself and all other women that she knows forbidden from participating in society in any, Latifa becomes more and more concerned with women's issues-indeed she becomes a feminist, although she had most likely never heard the term before. It's fascinating to read in her descriptions of childhood in Kabul of what a relatively normal life her family had been able to lead, despite the wars and political upheavals. This contrasts sharply with the changes brought in by the Taliban, when marriages could no longer be celebrated, and teachers could be beaten for providing lessons to little girls. This is a very-well written, gripping account of Afghani life from the point of view of an ordinary citizen, and highly recommended to anyone who wants to further their understanding of the Afghan society and attitudes towards the Taliban.
What is life like as a woman under the Taliban rule? This book will tell you all this and more!