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Growing up under the Taliban: A Young Woman’s Story
Sunday, March 25, 2012


Sixteen year old Latifa has always enjoyed life in Kabul. She wore makeup, listened to American music and danced at weddings despite the ever familiar sounds of rocket fire. But on September 27, 1996 everything changed. A white flag flew over the mosque; the flag of the Taliban. They have taken Kabul. The Taliban outlawed everything. No television, no music, no poetry, no news. Nothing but propaganda. Men are obliged to grow their beards. It is forbidden to whistle or to even own a whistling kettle. It is forbidden to own dogs or birds.


Women and girls are not permitted to work outside their homes. All women must be accompanied by a mahram: their father, brother or husband whenever they leave their homes. It is forbidden to wear a suit or tie. Women and girls must wear the chadri. It is forbidden to wear lipstick or nail polish. A woman is not allowed to go to a tailor for men. A girl is not allowed to converse with a young man and infraction of this law will lead to the immediate marriage of the offenders! Muslim families are not allowed to listen to music even during weddings. People are flogged in the streets for the simplest defiance. Her father has lost his business. A strong man, resilient and respectable; his face is now gray and masked with sadness. He carries the weight of the entire family on his shoulders. He’s worried about his wife’s health, fears the Taliban will take his son and his daughters would be forced to live a life locked in their home.


Latifa is forced to pack and hide away all her cherished belongings; books, photos, music tapes, comics, posters, videos, lipstick, nail polish. She is enraged at the Taliban’s injustice toward Afghan girls. She is now a prisoner in her own home. Enraged at the injustice that surrounds her and her family; Latifa established a school and attempted to defy the regime, one child at a time. A moving tale of oppression and courageous defiance, Latifa is empowered by the regime’s harshness. Written during her exile, this book is a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit. ‘Joy and sorrow are sisters’ Latifa was born in 1980 in Kabul and now lives in Paris. My Forbidden Face is her first book, written with Shékéba Hachemi.  


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