Latifa:My Forbidden Face

Sunday, September 21, 2008 Liyana Hanim 9 Comments

I read a lot of things from fictions to autobiography to motivation books and so on,so forth.Once in awhile,a book just jumps to you and begs to be read and this book, My Forbidden Face: Growing Up Under the Taliban: A Young Woman's Story,is one of them.I discussed about the gory true tales in the book with some of my friends a few days ago and they were shocked over the shocking(no pun intended!) revelation.

Funnily,I got the book from the library at my faculty..Now who says the library has boring books?Those people obviously wasn't looking in the right places..hehe

I was in the library with Hani,a week ago and we were browsing around,waiting for Hanna & Napz to finish their class.And I saw the book and just grab it.I love reading true stories,real-life account of a person who has been there,experiencing what living in a war torn place is and this book is a big scary eye opener for me.The only problem I have with this book,and judging with the reader's review at Amazon,is the fact that the stories are not in choronological order.

Latifa switches back and forth the stories according to her memory.You know,how in real life you tend to talk about things but then you tend to forget about some details and then when you do remember the things you were suppose to say,it's said after you've said it?Confusing?Well try reading a book about a girl's real life experiences and then she jumps from one scenario and then rewind back without any warning.

But all in all,this book is to me very important to be read.Very,very important.The reason one is easy to believe in hear say and rumors is because they don't get their facts right.And I'm glad that when I read this book,it had things that Khaled Hosseini wrote in his book so it's suffice to say that although Hosseini was writing a piece of fiction,he wasn't lying about some of the things that really did happened in Afghanistan.

This book made me very appreciative and thankful that I'm living in Malaysia.Seriously,all of us have NO idea how extremely lucky we are.Latifa has been living in Afghanistan all her life(of course now she's living in America as she can't go back as the Taliban have her on their wanted list because she told of her experience to ELLE magazine a few years ago) and when Afghanistan was under the Soviet,even when bombs was going down everywhere,she still manage to study and go to school.But when the Taliban came,she couldn't go out to school.She stayed at home for 2 years!2 years of being cooped up at home...Because the Taliban doesn't allow the women to work or even go to school.

There's a brief chronology on the history of Afghanistan in the book and it helps shed some light on the confusing politic situation there.And there's even a map of Afghanistan.

There are many ridiculous laws that the Taliban impose on the Afghan when they took over in 1994 but some of the ones that shocked me are:

-Girls and women are not allowed to work outside the home

-All women who have to leave their houses must be accompanied by a mahram

-Suits and ties are forbidden.Traditional Afghani dress must be worn.

-Women and girls must wear the burqa.
-Women and girls are forbidden to wear brightly coloured clothes BENEATH their burqa--???

-Nail polish,lipstick and make-up are forbidden.

-A young woman must not engage in conversation with a young man.If they do so,they must be married immediately after this breach.

-Muslim families may not listen to music,even during a wedding ceremony.

-Families are prohibited from taking photos or making videos,even during a marriage.

-Engaged women may not go to a beauty salon,even during preparation for marriage.

-No merchant is permitted to sell women's undergarments.

Some of shocking incidents that happened to Latifa and the people around her:

(a)At the beginning of 1997,after 4 months of the arrival of Taliban,Latifa finally go out of her house.With her friend,the siblings,Saber(a guy) & Farida.They saw four women walking along the road.Suddenly a Taliban pick up van appears from nowhere and whip them!They start to whip the women on the streets despite the fact that the women were fully covered in their burqas.

The women scream,but no one comes to their aid.They run away,clumsy in their heavy garb but the Taliban continued to lash at hem.Latifa sees blood dripping from the women's shoes.

And you know why they were whipped?

It's because they were wearing white shoes!!Because it's the color of the Taliban flag,thus women aren't allowed to wear white.Can you imagine that?Being whip until you bleed just for wearing the color white??

(b)At the beginning of the winter of 1997, one of Latifa's neighbour,a young boy named Aimal,was hit by the Taliban with the butts of their Kalashnikovs while his mother was screaming "My son is innocent".They hit Aimal on the ribs.And Aimal was dead when the doctors came.

Why was Aimal being hit by the Taliban with their rifle?
Aimal had invited his friends over,all between 15-17 of age to watch a film on video.The Taliban raided the apartment and caught the youths.When the Taliban asked to whom the tape belonged,Aimal said that it was him.

So the Talibans insisted that the boys hit each other,an act which the Afghans find supremely humiliating.Aimal didn't hit hard enough,so one of the Taliban said "I'll show you how it's done".

So he set upon him,fist with his fists,then with the rifle.Aimal's mother tried to interpose herself but the Taliban hit her so hard that she went flying against barbed wire.Then like a lynch mob,they all joined in beating the youth with the butts of their rifles.

(c)Latifa's mother is a retired gynaecologist.One day,4 burqa clad women came to their house.One of them is and old school friend of Latifa's sister,Nafissa.They came all the way from Kohestan and took a long taxi ride to get to Kabul.To cut the story short(as I think this post is getting to long & I still have to bake more cookies!)...

The 3 girls were 15-16 years old,the Taliban took them hostage during the offensive on the plane of Shomali.A gang of about 15 men,raped them.But that wasn't all,they mutilated their genitals,ripped them.So,Latifa's mother had to sew their genitals back together without using a proper hospital equipment,as they were at their aparment.

There's more gory and shocking things that Latifa experienced that were told in this book.So do read it!I hope that you guys will read this book because it makes you appreciate more all the things that you take for granted.


Liyana jangan la bagi byk spoiler sgt! Tgk dh takbest dah.

LIYANA said...

sori bro!!!!!!!!!!!
xper isnin nih aq nk pulangkan d book,ko pinjam trus..aite???
alah xspoiler sgt pon...hehehe

Anonymous said...

at this point, i feel lucky im in malaysia...

LIYANA said...

kan hana??
sgt!eventhough our political scene is very haywire nowadays,there's still so many things to be thankful for...

before the taliban invaded afghanistan,they were under the soviet & living in a country where there's bombs all around is something that is normal to them & through latifa's eyes,she said that atleast even when there was bombs flying around(before taliban),she was allowed to go to school..

Being ruled by the Taliban,to the Afghan,is worst than a war-torn country.

acad said...

cam best jek..

but I still have two books to be read..da lama da tinggal..and 1 season of heroes to watch..
igt 2 Li..season 2 heroes..

Temi said...

Ahh buku ni lebih kurang macam The Bookseller of Kabul je

Anonymous said...

i dont know if everything had been told in the book is 100% trustable. bcoz this is only from the sight of latifa and written by someone else. you know, ppl do add and leave things to colour the story.. maybe u should refer to other books refering the taliban but written in the other sight. i meant, contradict to latifa's. dont trust everything but study them..

anyway, there are things that i am puzzeled of. those issues that u said u shocked of, u should be shocked. But I think u should read more on the rules in islam..
- All women who have to leave their houses must be accompanied by a mahram
(this is true. But nowadays we neglect the rule and do our way)
- Nail polish,lipstick and make-up are forbidden
(this should not be shocked of no more. It is crystal-clear that muslimah cannot change Allah’s creation)
- A young woman must not engage in conversation with a young man
(yes. This is forbidden to avoid fitnah)

LIYANA said...

temi..ooh really?haven't read it yet..huhu

thanks for ur comment..
yup so far i've only read 4 books pertaining life in afghanistan & i've to say my knowledge on it is very little...

but yeah,like u said although those islamic rules existed people nowadays seldom practice it and in this modern age,it's hard to do so.

especially about the make-up& lipstick thing...i don't think it changes a person face..plastic surgery does though..

and young woman & man are not allowed to talk to each other?being in a university i don't think that's possible...

Temi said...

hi, u've been tagged. please visit my blog :)