desmond elliott 2017 Harry Potter House Eds
Search our site
Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber Read the opening extract of the brand new Kathleen Barber book before its publication on 27/12/2017

The Underground Girls of Kabul The Hidden Lives of Afghan Girls Disguised as Boys by Jenny Nordberg

The Underground Girls of Kabul The Hidden Lives of Afghan Girls Disguised as Boys

Biography / Autobiography   
Notify me
when in stock

As soon as this book is back in stock we will send you an email.

Sue Baker's view...

Jenny Nordberg’s book is prefaced with Roya Ehsas’s telling poem, which ends “I would love to be anything in nature/ But not a woman/ Not an Afghan woman”. The author, a writer and TV producer, knows the Afghan region well and one of her contacts who had 4 daughters one day appeared to have 3 daughters and one son, revealing the Afghan tradition of “Bacha Posh”, girls living as boys. Mainly this tradition survives to enable parents to escape the “shame” of having no sons, in the past too, women acted as male harem guards. Mainly the girls lose their male status at puberty but there are cases of women living of men all their lives, living as go-betweens in one of the most strictly segregated nations on earth. Through investigating this little-known phenomenon, Jenny Nordberg reveals a great deal about the role of women in Afghanistan.

Like for Like Reading

Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse: The True Story of a Woman who Risked Everything to Bring Hope to Afghanistan, Suraya Sadeed

Dear Zavi: Hidden Stories from the Women of Afghanistan, Zarghuna Kargar

Who is Sue Baker


The Underground Girls of Kabul The Hidden Lives of Afghan Girls Disguised as Boys by Jenny Nordberg

An Afghan woman's life expectancy is just 44 years, and her life cycle often begins and ends in disappointment: being born a girl and finally, having a daughter of her own. For some, disguising themselves as boys is the only way to get ahead. Nordberg follows women such as Azita Rafaat, a parliamentarian who once lived as a Bacha Posh, the mother of seven-year-old Mehran, who she is raising as a Bacha Posh as well, but for different reasons than in the past. There's Zahra, a teenage student living as a boy who is about to display signs of womanhood as she enters puberty. And Skukria, a hospital nurse who remained in a Bacha Posh disguise until she was twenty, and who now has three children of her own. Exploring the historical roots of this tradition, The Underground Girls of Kabul is a fascinating and moving investigation.


'Nordberg's subtle, sympathetic reportage makes this one of the most convincing portraits of Afghan culture in print' -- Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Jenny Nordberg is an award-winning journalist based in New York. A correspondent and columnist for Swedish national newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, she has a long record of investigative reports for, among others, the New York Times, where she also contributed to a series that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. In 2010, she was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism for a television documentary on Afghan women. She is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading similar books...
Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

30th September 2014


Jenny Nordberg

More books by Jenny Nordberg
Author 'Like for Like'


Virago Press Ltd an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group


368 pages


Gender studies, gender groups



I love Lovereading because of its ability to connect people that love books & unite them in a friendly, stimulating & interesting community.

Megan Olwen William

Lovereading recommends, honestly reviews and promotes books-what more can I say?!

Rachel Bridgeman

Ever purchased a book, read a few pages & thought I'm not going to enjoy this? Honest book reviews mean you'll never have that problem again

Jill Peters

Why I love @lovereadinguk? It's in the name - as dedicated lovers of reading, they are perfect matchmakers for helping me find my next read!

Catherine Jenkins

It's the first site that I visit when deciding on the next set of books to buy. A particular treat is being able to download an extract.

Tessa Olson

Lovereading is pitched at just the right level for all the various types of people who enjoy reading in its many forms.

Pam Woodburn

It's information about new books so, for a book lover like me, what's not to like!

Joan Hill

Lovereading always comes up with great suggestions and has introduced me to enjoyable books and new authors to discover.

Gaynor Passmore