Jenny Nordberg, who wrote “Undercover Sister” for our Oct/Nov issue this year, was interviewed last Monday on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. In the interview she discussed a practice in Afghanistan, where some families disguise a daughter as a son and raise her as a boy until she hits puberty. The interview goes into the reasoning behind the practice, and its long-term effect psychologically on the girls who experience such shifts. 

Afghanistan being a deeply patriarchal society, the birth of a girl is often far from a joyous event. Quite the opposite, girls are often seen as a burden and forced to live a life filled with severely limited options and very little freedom. Having a son is seen as one of the only ways to show the outside world that there is strength and integrity within the family. Outside of the respect that having a son can garner, a son can also be helpful to bring income into the family, as young boys are allowed to work outside the home whereas young girls are not.  


For some families who don’t have a son, gender bending is a creative way to buck the system. Jenny Nordberg explores this concept and practice in her most recent project, The Underground Girls of Kabul, In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan.

The full interview can be found here

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