Afghan Girls Dress Like Boys To Have Rights

In Afghan culture, a male child is a matter of pride. He is also the one in charge of carrying the family name forward. But daughters are often considered a burden.

The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou

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Some women in the country are forced to become the "son" their parents never had. In Afghanistan, many families prefer sons over daughters. A male child is a status symbol who carries the family name forward, while daughters are often considered a burden. This has led to some of them practicing the age-old tradition of bacha posh, where girls are disguised as boys.

TRT World made a report about Sitara Wafadar, a girl who has been disguised as a boy for more than ten years. She is from Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar. As she has five sisters and no brothers, Wafadar had to become the boy of the family.


Since Wafadar was born, she had to put on boy's clothes and work with her father in a brick factory. The young girl told TRT World: "I have been forced to make bricks. I also want to be a girl in my family, but I don't have any choice as I have to support my elderly father too."

Then she added, "My mother has become weak, and we are five sisters." Families without boys are subject to pity and contempt. So far, for parents with no male child, cross-dressing is the only alternative.

In a centuries-old tradition, parents decide to dress their girls as boys and cut their hair at birth. Bacha posh, as it's called, is a secret known only to immediate family members. In a society where men enjoy all benefits, bacha posh are girls who have the same freedom as boys, including going to school, playing sports, and working and supporting the family.

In short, being able to do everything that women in Afghanistan struggle with. Some believe that disguising their daughters as sons will serve as a lucky charm that could lead to them having a male child in the future.

Ever since Wafadar was eight, she's been helping her father make ends meet. According to the media, Wafadar makes 500 bricks a day for just over 2 dollars. She wonders what it would be like if she had a brother and could be free to live her life as a girl.

When the girl hits puberty, the curtains are drawn back on the bacha posh after years of living in disguise. Now she must get ready for a smooth transition from a boy to a girl. No more male clothes. Wafadar will start covering her head, soften her voice and finally prepare for marriage.

There's no doubt that this ancient tradition is rooted in inequality. As a consequence, in this society, only boys and men can enjoy all rights.

Having spent their lives in freedom, many find it challenging to adapt to gender-based restrictions. Some choose to remain bacha posh throughout their lives while others return to their birth gender, frequently confused about their identity and living with a deep psychological scar.

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