My Forbidden Face

My Forbidden Face

Growing up Under the Taliban: A Young Woman's Story

Book - 2001
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An astonishing first-hand account of a young womans life lived under the tyranny of the Taliban.Born into a middle-class Afghan family in Kabul in 1980, Latifa spent her teenage days talking fashion and movies with her friends, listening to music, and dreaming of one day becoming a journalist. Then, on September 26, 1996, Taliban soldiers seized power in Kabul. Suddenly, streets were deserted. Her school was closed. Phones were cut. The radio fell silent. And from that moment, Latifa, just sixteen years old, became a prisoner in her own home. The simplest and most basic freedomslike walking down the street alone or even looking out of a windowwere forbidden. Latifa had never worn a veil before, but was now forced to be swathed in a chadri, the state-mandated uniform that covered her entire body. Her disbelief at having to hide her face was soon replaced by fear, the fear of being whipped or stoned like the other women shed seen in the streets.Latifa struggled against an overwhelming sense of helplessness and despair. In a step of defiance, she set up a clandestine school in her home for a small number of young girls. To avoid arousing suspicion, the children were not allowed to attend every day, nor could they keep regular hours. Latifa knew that she was risking her life for something that could change little. But the teaching gave her a reason to get up in the morning, it helped restore meaning in her life. Latifa eventually escaped to Europe with her parents.My Forbidden Face provides a poignant and highly personal account of life under the Taliban regime. With painful honesty and clarity, Latifa describes her ordered world falling apart, in the name of fanaticism that she could not comprehend, and replaced by a world where terror and oppression reign. Latifa and her parents escaped Afghanistan in May 2001 and were brought to Europe in an operation organized by a French-based Afghan resistance group and Elle Magazine. Since then she has been writing My Forbidden Face in collaboration with Chekeba Hachemi, the founder of Afghanistan Libre. They both live in Paris. This is her first book.
Publisher: New York : Talk Miramax/Hyperion, c2001.
ISBN: 9780786869015
Characteristics: xi, 210 p. :,map ;,22 cm.
Additional Contributors: Hachemi, Chékéba
Coverdale, Linda


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DBRL_KrisA Jun 09, 2018

A view of life in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, through the eyes of a young, college-aged woman. "Latifa" (not her real name) grew up in Kabul during the Soviet occupation, the civil war among the mujaheddin, and the hard-line fundamentalist regime of the Taliban.

Although Latifa is an aspiring journalist, the book is not written in a journalistic style; rather, it feels more like a personal memoir of everyday life. The reader sees the special difficulties of being a woman under a regime that has stripped women of practically everything - their careers, their education, even their personal identities. And, thanks to the burqa, as the title suggests, even their faces.

My issues with the book are minor. Latifa, who readily admits to being spoiled by her father and her siblings, can seem a bit annoying at times - complaining about not being able to go to a wedding reception, or not getting to wear certain clothes - when there are others in much, much worse straits. And her focus is almost entirely on how the Taliban regime affected her life, without giving much attention to those around her. But overall, this is an interesting personal history of life in Afghanistan in the late 20th century.

Aug 29, 2016

This is one of my favourite books I have ever read. The book gives a lot of insight into the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan and the restrictions placed on one and the impact this had on her and her family including her mother becoming severely depressed.

Nov 03, 2013

Engaging and surprisingly easy to read. I stayed up all night and devoured this in less than 24 hours. It is told from a somewhat childlike point of view, refreshing and truthful. Sometimes makes you feel like there are parts of the story missing. The story is her own. A good intro to a part of Afghan culture.

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