09 September 2004

My Forbidden Face by "Latifa"

Non-fiction. Paperback from Virago Press. Published 2002. Purchased at the Bridge Help Point (off of their used books self for .20p), Datchet, Berkshire, UK.

It was a slow day at the Bridge today, so I went into the help point to peruse the used books to see if there was something that caught my eye. As usual there wasn't much to choose from; only occasionally will there be a gem hiding in the midst of the junk. I haven't read any of the books that have come out recently about how women are treated by the Taliban, so I decided to pick this book up and give it a read. The woman who wrote the book is young, and could have perhaps benefitted from a little help from a professional ghost writer. It was an interesting story though, and it is certainly appalling how women are treated under Taliban rule. Here in the UK I have had a very small taste of the distain some men from that part of the world have for women. It just makes me angry, but I can imagine how degrading it must be for the women there not to be able to combat it very effectively.

Publisher's summary:
A poignant story of a young woman's life under the Taliban.

Latifa was born in Kabul, in 1980, into an educated middle-class Afghan family, at once liberal and religious. As a teenager, she was interested in fashion and cinema and going out with her friends, and she longed to become a journalist. her mother, a doctor, and her father, a businessman, encouraged her dreams.

Then, in 1996, the Taliban seized power. From that moment, Latifa, sixteen years old, became a prisoner in her own home. her school was closed. Her mother was banned from working. The simplest and most basic freedoms - walking down the street, looking out of a window - were no longer hers. She was now forced to cover herself entirely with a burqa.

With painful honestly and clarity, Latifa describes the way her world fell apart in the name of a fanatical interpretation of a faith. her story goes to the heart of a people caught up in a terrible tragedy in a brutalised country. But Latifa is determined to survive - and live in freedom and hope.

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