The Afghan girls who live as boys to survive fundamentalists

Maureen Callahan
The New York Post

In the Muslim world, where women are denied basic human rights — from divorce to drivers’ licenses, no protection from abuse or honor killings — there is no worse place than Afghanistan.

The United Nations, Save the Children and the Thompson Reuters Foundation have ranked Afghanistan as the worst place in the world to be a woman, a mother, a child and a newborn. The average life expectancy for a woman is 44.

Little surprise, then, that girls there don’t want to be girls.

In her new book “The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan” (Crown), journalist Jenny Nordberg explores the little-known phenomenon of the bacha posh — the girl or woman who passes, at home and in society, as male.

There is no historical record, no census-taking or database, but, as Nordberg writes, “One degree beyond the foreign-educated Kabul elite, many Afghans can indeed recall a former neighbor, a relative, a colleague or someone in their extended family with a daughter growing up as a boy.”…



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