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The Pearl that Broke its Shell

by Nadia Hashimi

It's tough being an Afghan girl - one solution is to become a boy. Rahima becomes Rahim - a bacha posh, who is temporarily allowed to act as the son of the family with all the freedom that implies. Parallel to her story is that of her great-great-grandmother, a guard in the king's harem. The violence, abuse and misogyny are hard to take, and tragically, little seems to have changed in the last hundred years.

Extract

We begged and pleaded with Padar-jan to let us return to school. One of Parwin's teachers, a childhood friend of Madar-jan, even showed up at the house and tried to reason with our parents. Padar-jan had relented in the past but this time was different. He wanted us to go to school but struggled with how to make that happen safely. How would it look for his daughters to be chased by local boys for all to see? Awful.
'If I had a son this would not be happening! Goddamn it! Why do we have a house full of girls! Not one, not two - but five of them!' he would yell. Madar-jan would busy herself with housework, feeling the weight of disappointment on her shoulders.

Parallels

Afghanistan, Where God Only Comes to Weep by Siba Shakib
The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S Tepper
 

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