Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg

The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg
Hardcover: 350 pages
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY) (16 Sept. 2014)
Source: Review copy (digital) from Publisher

Book Synopsis:
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 twenty, and who now has three children of her own. Exploring the historical roots of this tradition, The Underground Girls of Kabul is a fascinating and moving investigation.

My Thoughts:
'The Underground Girls of Kabul' by Jenny Nordberg is an immensely informative, insightful and compelling read. Nordberg obviously did extensive research on the practice in Afghanistan of 'basha posh'.  I was not aware of the practice but not surprised.
Having lived in the Middle East I can appreciate a little of the difficulties muslim women face daily living in this often oppressive, male dominated environment.  A woman's life outside the home is practically impossible without a male family member to escort them and I understand the necessity for the compromise in order to be able to get things done, or simply be respected.

The reportage is intelligently written in a compelling, non judgmental manner and brings to light the cultural and religious reasons, benefits and disadvantages of having, and being a 'basha posh'.

Highly recommended.

I would like to thank the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review this enlightening, outstanding title.

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