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Bacha Posh “dressed like a boy”

    It is evening, getting dark and the boy is negotiating with a customer about the prices of the things the customer has collected. At first sight, we thought it is a boy with his father, but later we noticed that he actually was a girl in boy’s clothes called: Bacha Posh “dressed like a boy”. In families where they lack boys, a girl can be chosen to take the role of a boy and act like a boy in order to help her family. During the day the Bacha Posh perform the responsibilities of boys in society, in the evenings they go back dressing like girls.

    The superiority of boys over girls is evident in some parts of Afghanistan.  Families prefer to have a boy rather than a girl. If women cannot give birth to a boy, the man, based on the families’ decision can marry for the second time, hoping his second wife would give birth to a boy. Another solution is to dress their daughter like a boy “Bacha Posh” to help the family and father.

    Our Bacha Posh “Mary” joined girls’ school in Mazar-e-Sharif and started doing her studies. She had the dream of contributing to society with a good profession, but then she was harassed and insulted by her classmates because of her dress code. So she left school, left her dreams behind and started working with her father in the local bazar.

    Some of her classmates became her best friends, and they discovered her artistic talent. She was good at painting and drawing, and she showed her friends her impressive drawings from the time she joined school. It was then that the friends felt responsible and wanted to help her to come back to continue her education.

    In an early evening, a group of 3 to 4 girls made their way to the local bazar where their Bacha Posh friend (Mary) was busy helping her father. After warmest greetings, they started a short discussion with Mary’s father about her future and school.  But each time they were talking about her future, he was insisting that he doesn’t have a boy child and she is the only person for help.  However, Mary was saying “I like being a girl but my father doesn’t like it.”

    Mary’s friends didn’t give up, and they talked with Mary’s father several times. Each time they were coming with new reasons to convince him to let Mary go back to school and start a normal life like a girl. Finally, the girls decided to show her father the artistic talent she had, and they brought the painting and pictures drawn by Mary at home.

    The girls simply showed him that what a girl can do in her own role is better than doing in someone else’s role. A girl can do better when she is allowed to do what she likes and wants. A girl has the potential to support and cooperate with the family in any circumstances and situations. As boys have dreams, ambitions, wishes, and plans for life, also girls have ambitions to make their dreams come true. After few days, her father understood and allowed her to go back to school and improve her artistic talent and live like a girl.

    Years passed, after continuing her studies Marry finally became a painting teacher. Now she supports her family with the incomes she receives from teaching and selling her art works.