The Underground Girls Of Kabul
The Hidden Lives of Afghan Girls Disguised as Boys
By Jenny Nordberg
Uncovers the hidden true story of the age-old tradition of 'Bacha Posh' - girls masquerading as boys - in a society that does not value females.
An Afghan woman's life expectancy is just 44 years, and her life cycle often begins and ends in disappointment: being born a girl and finally, having a daughter of her own. For some, disguising themselves as boys is the only way to get ahead.
Nordberg follows women such as Azita Rafaat, a parliamentarian who once lived as a Bacha Posh, the mother of seven-year-old Mehran, who she is raising as a Bacha Posh as well, but for different reasons than in the past. There's Zahra, a teenage student living as a boy who is about to display signs of womanhood as she enters puberty. And Skukria, a hospital nurse who remained in a bacha posh disguise until she was 20, and who now has three children of her own.
Exploring the historical and religious roots of this tradition, The Underground Girls of Kabul is a fascinating and moving narrative that speaks to the roots of gender.
Jenny Nordberg is a writer and producer of long-form television who lives in New York City. She currently is the U.S. and Foreign Affairs Columnist for Swedish national newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, and has written for The New York Times. As a producer, she has reported on a wide range of domestic and international topics - from Iraqi refugees and Pakistan's nuclear proliferation, to global economics and effects of the financial crisis throughout Eastern Europe. She holds a B.A. in Law and Journalism from Stockholm University, and an M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
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- Publication date:
07 May 2015
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Nordberg's subtle, sympathetic reportage makes this one of the most convincing portraits of Afghan culture in print — Publishers Weekly
Five years of research, and an almost novelistic approach to her findings, has produced a book full of fresh stories — Razia Iqbal, Independent
Nordberg's hopeful yet heart-breaking account offers a dazzling picture of Afghan life . . . She is refreshingly non-judgmental . . . Thanks to this book, a little more light has been shone on a country and society so often misunderstood — Independent on Sunday
Partly a reflection on the politics of sex and gender . . . but it is also a tale of discovery — Sunday Telegraph
a fascinating study — The Glasgow Herald
This fascinating study sheds new light on what it's like to be female in the country declared the worst in the world to be a woman . . . This powerful account of powerlessness resonates with the most silenced voices in society — Observer