My Forbidden Face

What would it be like if terrorists took over your country, how would your life change? Would you have access to health care, news, and money? Could you wear the same clothes that you used to, or listen to music or watch television? Or even have a job?  For Latifa, and you, the answer is no. In 1996 the Taliban took over Afghanistan and made people’s lives, especially women, worse than hell. My forbidden face is the story of Latifa, and the life and vile oppression of all women, under the Taliban.

Throughout Latifa’s hellish experience traditions and religion were something she could hold on to. Her family is deeply religious and has a great respect for the holy book. “the injunctions of the Koran have nothing to do with what the Taliban want to impose on us.” (Latifa, page 40) The Taliban stretch and distort the Koran to suite their own twisted and cruel needs. On page 52 Latifa writes of a woman who would not wear the proper dress, “ the Koran fell from her arms, and none of her assailants made to pick it up. Now, the Koran must never be placed directly on the ground. If they really respected the Koran, the Taliban would know this. But they completely ignore the customary principles of our religion.”(Latifa, page 52)Throughout the story Latifa prays for a free Afghanistan and for women to have the rights they once had, but in many cases praying is not enough and you have to step up yourself.

It has been two years since freedom and Latifa is not the most rebellious of girls. But she must do something to bring back even the smallest chink of light in her dark infested world, and in the mist of all the repulsive oppression Latifa has an idea. Under the Taliban only boys are allowed to go to school, and they are only thought the Koran by Taliban mullahs who are twisted and extreme. So she and two of her friends begin an underground school for children in their apartment building. “Now I’m eighteen, and for two years I’ve been living shut up within these walls doing nothing, when I could perhaps make myself useful by joining those who are passing on their knowledge.” (Latifa, page 121)This gives Latifa’s life purpose again, and even if she cannot continue her own education, at least she can continue it for others.

It has now been four years since the Taliban took over and Latifa has another opportunity to shed light on her dark world. For the past four years it has seemed, to the hopeless Afghans that the rest of the world does not care about their hellish plight. In the late spring of 2001 a friend of Latifa’s mother -who runs and underground medical Clinique- sends a message to them stating that the French are looking for women who would fly to Paris and speak about what is happening in Afghanistan. Latifa volunteers to go to speak for the woman of Afghanistan. She speaks with newspapers, magazine writers, and television news networks. Finally after all the strife and pain and misery the women are heard…

 To be perfectly honest this book was not a shocking eye opener to me. I have travelled all over the world; I’ve been to orphanages in Ecuador and seen Ferrari parks next to slums where people are starving. I know what the world is like. I know how cruelly women are treated all over the world. But there is hope women are now beginning to have a much greater influence in government and the world. And in a letter at the back of the book Latifa writes something that is absolutely true and I whole heartedly agree with “Women is the future of mankind.” May god grant that in Afghanistan, above all, men soon sing those words as well.” – Latifa page 202