The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan

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Crown Publishers, 2014 - Social Science - 350 pages
30 Reviews

An investigative journalist 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 often mourned as misfortune. A bacha posh (literally translated from Dari as "dressed up like a boy") 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.

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 live 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.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Rascalstar - LibraryThing

The author of this book risked her life many times to bring us what is an important and insightful revelation. This book is larger than its parts and stories. Ultimately, it's about the role and ... Read full review

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User Review  - THCForPain - LibraryThing

What Underground girls of Kabul is about: "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 often mourned as ... Read full review

Contents

Chapter THE REBEL MOTHER
26
PART THREE MEN Chapter 13 THE BoDYGUARD
30
THE SON MAKER
73
PART TWO WOUTH
130
THE ROMANTIC
182
Chapter Is THE DRIVER
193
THE WARRIOR
202
THE REFUSERs 2IS Chapter 18 THE GoDDEss
224
PART FOUR FATHERS
235
THE DEFEATED
237
THE CASToff 2S4 Chapter 21 THE WIFE
262
THE FATHER
275
Epilogue ONE OF THE BOYS 3oo Authors Note
309
13
313
Acknowledgments
337
Index
339

Map ZOROASTRIANISM ACROSS THE GLOBE
232

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About the author (2014)

JENNY NORDBERG is an award-winning journalist based in New York. A correspondent and columnist for Swedish national newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, she has a long record of investigative reports for, among others, The New York Times, where she also contributed to a series that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. In 2010, she was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism for a television documentary on Afghan women. She is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

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