Girls Have To Do What They Can
The pressure is on for Afghani women to predict the gender of the children they give birth to and the pressure is on for those children to be boys. An Afghani custom that seems to have gone on for years is to dress one young girl in the family as a boy, cut her hair short and have her act like a boy in public. The name for this is bacha posh which means literally ‘dressed up as a boy.’ A bacha posh can have some sort of job, bringing home an income. Families without boys are pitied but a bacha posh can increase the families social standings. It’s also believed that these children can provide luck for the next child to be a boy.
Many girls become accustomed to dressing like a boy and eventually, when they hit puberty and are expected to end their bacha posh, they have a hard time adjusting to female dress and behavior.
This practice, from my vantage point, looks like sexism, pure and simple. But i know the solution is complicated. The United States has been involved in a war in Afghanistan for years. That war has caused much death and destruction. One of the things that politicians have said is that Afghanistan will be better for women as a result of the U.S. invasion. I just cannot see how a man-made war that focuses primarily on men fighting men is going to liberate women or make families value their daughters, who generally are not warriors or soldiers. Perhaps an end to war will give Afghani women the room to speak for themselves and resist traditions that demean women and make girls feel that the only value they have is in disguising themselves boys.
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