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Dear Zari : Stories from Women in Afghanistan by Zarghuna Kargar

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Starting life as part of the BBC World Service transmission, Afghan Woman’s Hour, women were encouraged to tell their stories, it became one of the most widely listened to programmes in the country. Zarghuna Kargar interweaves her own story around these biographical fragments, tragic stories of women broken and downtrodden by such a deeply traditional and conservative culture where women have value only as bearers of sons. The situation has worsened due to the wars adding widowhood and disablement to women’s woes. There are chinks of light among the stories, a loving relationship, a woman finding a way of supporting her family, another able to choose the man she loves but one is left angered and saddened at the treatment meted out to the Afghan women and deeply grateful to Zarghuna Kargar for revealing the plight of these women.

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Dear Zari : Stories from Women in Afghanistan by Zarghuna Kargar

In 2001 Zarghuna Kargar came to the UK as an asylum-seeker. She and her family were forced to leave their home in Kabul during the civil war and then spent several years as refugees in Pakistan. Zarghuna trained as a journalist with BBC Worldwide in Peshawar, and when she came to London she quickly got a job working at the BBC. In 2004 she became the producer and presenter for the ground-breaking ‘Afghan Women’s Hour’ – a programme which aired discussions, stories and advice covering issues – many of which were controversial and had never before been raised – faced by Afghan women every day. The programme was broadcast to millions of people across Afghanistan where it attracted huge audiences, of both men and women. It was profoundly influential, bringing education, support and encouragement to countless women. It is this programme, and the stories that Zarghuna heard, that have inspired this book.

From the experience of being sold off in marriage as a child bride, to living as a widow shunned by society, to a childhood spent in a dark, dusty room weaving carpets - Dear Zari bring us stories which are personal and emotional, revealing how many of the customs in this deeply religious and intensely traditional society cause real suffering for women. These women have been moved to share their stories with Zarghuna in the hope that they might help someone else. And we also hear Zarghuna’s own incredible story, growing up as a refugee, beginning a new life in the west and dealing with an arranged marriage. She is a brave and compassionate advocate for these women, facing her own cultural pressures, and giving hope and reassurance to so many by bringing their experiences into light for the first time.

Profoundly moving, tender, and even, at times, funny, these tales of women's life in Afghanistan are never depressing and open up a fascinating and intimate world to a new audience.

About the Author

Zarghuna Kargar was born in Kabul in 1982. When civil war erupted across Afghanistan, she and her family escaped to Pakistan, and it was there that Zarghuna attended a journalism course organised by the BBC. Then in 2001 her family sought asylum in the UK, and she started working for the BBC World Service Pashtu Section. She joined the team on the groundbreaking programme Afghan Woman's Hour as producer and presenter in 2004, until it was discontinued in 2010. Zarghuna now works on current affairs programmes for the BBC Afghan Service. She lives in London.

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Book Info

Publication date

5th May 2011


Zarghuna Kargar

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Chatto & Windus an imprint of Vintage


Trade Paperback


The Real World
Biography / Autobiography



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