THIRD PARTY SCREENING: The Trouble with Girls

Talk March 27, 2012 7:00 PM

There’s a long tradition in Afghanistan of families with no sons choosing to bring up one of their daughters as a boy. For the girls this means growing up dressed in boy’s clothes, answering to a boy’s name and being allowed the freedoms and privileges Afghan boys enjoy both within the family and outside.

Girls can live like this until they are young adults, at which moment they are suddenly expected to revert to being girls, put on a dress and a scarf and conform to all the restrictions and rules imposed on Afghan girls. For many young women it’s very hard to adjust to their new lives.

An female Afghan MP spoke out recently about the difficulties facing girls in this situation, even though she herself admitted bringing up one of her daughters as a boy. The practice raises profound questions about why girls are still so undervalued in Afghan society and how difficult it is even for the new Facebook generation of modern young Afghans to challenge traditional prejudices.

Tahir Qadiry‘s film looks at the issue from a number of different perspectives. He spends time with a girl currently growing up as a boy, talks to a young woman who’s still coming to terms with her experience being raised as a boy, seeks the opinion of a mullah and hears from a human rights activist. He doesn’t judge but the viewer is left with the distinct impression that this is no painless solution for families who feel incomplete without a son.