Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hidden Girls Of Afghanistan

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 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."  

It took me longer to read this book than other books. Why? Because every time I sat down and read it I would get so angry reading about the complete ignorance of both the men and women of Afghanistan. Our country (U.S.A) might have gone in and helped to set-up some type of government that is supposed to be democratic but it is far from that. The few women that are a part of the parliamentary system do not speak at all except for one Azita but the men basically ignore her. The seats of the parliament are still corrupt with the taliban, drug smugglers, gun runners, etc. Azita is an educated women who is part of the Afghanistan parliament that has a daughter who is a bacha posh since she could not have a son. Azita still believes in all the ignorance of Afghanistan.  

Women/girls are treated as cattle to be sold to the family who can offer the best price or a better social standing for the woman's family. To quote the book "Her virginity is capital belonging to her father, and it is his to be traded. The more sheltered, demure, and quiet parents can demonstrate a daughter to be, the higher the value of her virginity". Even if it is her first cousin. Mothers tell their daughters at a young age that the only thing for them in life is to give their husbands boys when they are sold off. Women will have as many children as they possibly can. If they are unable to birth a son it is the woman's fault because they are yet able to understand that the male sperm determines the sex of the baby. So this is where the bacha posh comes into play.

A girl will be turned into a boy for many reasons. Afghanistan's believe that if a little boy is present in the house for the mother to look at it will increase the woman's chances of having a boy. In a poor family girls will be used as boys for physical labor at whatever the family does to make a living. The majority of the time the mother just does not give birth to a son and the whole family is looked down upon so until puberty is about to arrive the girl will live as a boy. This will than give a little girl the rare opportunity to go outside and experience the world they live in. Many people in their community know that they are bacha posh and look the other way. So a bacha posh lives with all this freedom in the years that they as a person are developing and their mind is growing maybe or maybe not understanding that they will lose all this and become a slave to a man. Most change back to their birth sex with no problem they say but some do not feel as they are women anymore. 

There is now a major problem since women can not live on their own in Afghanistan and are property to be sold.
Have they been brainwashed into feeling like boys? Is it a deep seeded fear about losing their freedom and having to go be a baby machine? Or could it possibly be something deeper than both of those and that they are  really are transgender or gay?  Why do this to a child?    

I did not give away much of the book. There is so much more to it. I gave it 4 stars due the incredible writing and for the exposure of how the culture might be ruled by men but the women are just as much to blame for their own situation. 

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Monday, October 6, 2014



In this rare insider’s view into contemporary North Korea, a high-ranking counterintelligence agent describes his life as a former poet laureate to Kim Jong-il and his breathtaking escape to freedom.

Dear Leader is about Jang Jin-sung who was North Korea’s State Poet Laureate and his escape from North Korea. The book thought was not just about that it was an indepth look at a political system that has no concern for its citizens or the world. Jang Jin-sung had a job that was very high up on the political ladder. He was one of the few that had access to all literature South Korean then changed the content to brainwash the North Korean people to think South Korea were supporters of Kim Jong-il. Due to Jang Jin-sungs level in North Korea society he got special provisions. He never went hungry and had a nice place to live unlike the rest of the people. 

Everything in North Korea revolves around Kim Jong-il. The people are starving to death in the streets and to make it more horrid there is a actual department of government that goes around poking people with sticks to see if they are dead. If you have read other North Korean books you have had an insight into the prison work camps, only pictures of the Leader, etc. But this book is different due to the fact that Jang Jin-sung is so high up in the government. He is able to tell the outside world things that might be unknown otherwise. This book is an important read into the workings of the North Korean government. Yet at times it can be daunting to read.

When Jang Jin-sung and Young-min made the mad dash to escape it read like a action packed thriller. They were on the run with two countries after them. They were in survival mode and if it was not for the few people that helped none would have got out alive. I found the end a little hard to believe. It was vague on how that number he called made it all happen. But it is a good book and should be on your to read list. 

(I got this book for a honest review for NetGalley)