I know that the situation in Afghanistan is not the norm for all women in the Muslim faith. I know that there are situations in some Christian communities where women lack equality with men, access to education, and opportunities to reach their potential. I say this because I don’t want to overstate the case. However, I find Jenny Nordberg’s book about women in Kabul and throughout Afghanistan to be credible.
Because it is believable, it is hard to accept. Women in Afghanistan have no rights. Even the individual Nordberg gives the most attention to, the politician is under heel in her own home. Jenny Nordberg has opened a world that most Americans and westerners never see or understand. Now that she has revealed it, I still don’t understand it.
I come away from my reading of “The Underground Girls of Kabul” thinking there is no way in traditional Islam that women can ever be fully human. Combined with the experiences shared in Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “Infidel,” I am left to conclude that a main thread of Islam involves the violent subjugation of women.
I am a Baptist pastor who tries to afford women every opportunity men have within the church. My more conservative Baptist peers do not feel women should be allowed to be ordained as pastors. I do. However, even the conservative Baptists in the United States have no objection to women becoming doctors, lawyers, politicians, or university professors. The rights denied women in conservative American Christianity while wrong pale in comparison to the way women are subjugated in normative Islamic life in Afghanistan.
I think Jenny Nordberg went through real hardship to research this book and her final product is a gift to any thinking person who wants to understand the situation in conservative Islamic communities. Writers who go the extent she did to accomplish her work help make humankind smarter.