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The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan
The Underground Girls of Kabul In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan Author:Jenny Nordberg An investigative reporter goes into one of the world?s most dangerous countries for women and uncovers a hidden custom that will transform your understanding of what it means to grow up as a girl — In Afghanistan, a culture ruled almost entirely by men, the birth of a son is cause for celebration and the arrival of a daughter is mourned. A bacha ... more »posh (literally translated to ?dressed up like a boy? in Dari) is a third kind of child?a girl temporarily raised as a boy and presented as such to the outside world. Jenny Nordberg, the reporter who broke the story of this phenomenon for the New York Times, constructs a powerful and moving account of those secretly living on the other side of a deeply segregated society where women have almost no rights and little freedom.
The Underground Girls of Kabul is anchored by vivid characters who bring this remarkable story to life: Azita, a female parliamentarian who sees no other choice but to turn her fourth daughter Mehran into a boy; Zahra, the tomboy teenager who struggles with puberty and refuses her parents? attempts to turn her back into a girl; Shukria, now a married mother of three after living for twenty years as a man; and Nader, who prays with Shahed, the undercover female police officer, as they both remain in male disguise as adults.
Following the tradition of intimate documentary journalism, Nordberg offers a fascinating, almost fairy-tale-like look at how girls are willed into looking, behaving, and acting as boys; why mothers and fathers would ask this of their daughters; and what ultimately happens when a bacha posh does not want to rescind the prerogatives that go along with living as a boy, and later as a man.
At the heart of this emotional narrative is a new perspective on the extreme sacrifices of Afghan women and girls against the violent backdrop of America?s longest war. Divided into four parts, the book follows those born as the unwanted sex in Afghanistan, but who present as the socially favored gender through childhood and puberty, only to later be forced into marriage and childbirth. The Underground Girls of Kabul charts their dramatic life cycles, while examining our own history and the parallels to subversive actions of people who live under oppression everywhere.« less
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