Behind the Burqa: Our Life in Afghanistan and How We Escaped to Freedom

Overview

Advance Praise for Behind the Burqa

"Whenever and wherever adults make war, children die and women are subjected to fear and humiliation. This is true of Afghanistan too. Read this harrowing book. The tragic yet heroic tale of two women is told with great simplicity. They will haunt you."
-Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

"The stories of Sulima and Hala achingly articulate the twin and enduring legacies of misogyny and violence. A ...

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Behind the Burqa: Our Life in Afghanistan and How We Escaped to Freedom

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Overview

Advance Praise for Behind the Burqa

"Whenever and wherever adults make war, children die and women are subjected to fear and humiliation. This is true of Afghanistan too. Read this harrowing book. The tragic yet heroic tale of two women is told with great simplicity. They will haunt you."
-Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

"The stories of Sulima and Hala achingly articulate the twin and enduring legacies of misogyny and violence. A critical historical document, Behind the Burqa ultimately reveals the unbreakable strength of Afghan women."
-Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues
Founder and Artistic Director, V-Day

"Behind the Burqa provides important information about conditions in Afghanistan, as well as the plight of asylum-seekers in the United States. I highly recommend this book to all people who are concerned about human rights, both at home and abroad."
-Senator Sam Brownback, (R. Kansas)
ranking member, Immigration Subcommittee, Committee on the Judiciary

"This book is a gripping reading experience, and it also offers important suggestions for those who would like to participate in making our asylum politics more humane."
-Eleanor Acer, Director, Asylum Program, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights

"This book shows the injustices suffered by innocent women seeking asylum in the U. S. and the power of religious faith to provide hope and courage even in prison."
-Fauziya Kassindja, author of Do They Hear You When You Cry

"Sulima and Hala epitomize the worldwide struggle of women for equality and justice. Their story is gripping and illuminating."
-Jessica Neuwirth, President of Equality Now

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
* "The stories of Sulima and Hala achingly articulate the twin and enduring legacies of misogyny and violence. A critical historical document, BEHIND THE BURQA ultimately reveals the unbreakable strength of Afghan women."(Eve Ensler, Author, The Vagina Monologues, Founder and Artistic Director, V-Day)

"...a fascinating story..." (Publishing News, 2 August 2002)

This memoir from two sisters who fled Afghanistan 20 years apart distinguishes itself from the spate of books about women in similar circumstances by the sheer breadth of its coverage. Through these first-hand accounts of oppression, abuse and downright misery, readers come to understand that the much-maligned Taliban only picked up where the Mujihaddin left off in curtailing women's rights. In fact, as "Sulima" and "Hala"'s mother points out, "(The Taliban) is better than the Mujihaddin. The laws are strict and harsh, but at least we know what to expect. They're not just randomly breaking into houses and killing people.... If we keep all the rules, then we will be safe." The sisters' tales of domestic abuse and other now familiar yet hair-raising injustices may crystallize the turbulent historical timeline, but it seems that their individual voices have been muted in translation. Unfortunately, it's so difficult to distinguish one from the other that much of the impact of this well-intentioned book is lost. (Oct.) (Publishers Weekly, September 30, 2002)

Publishers Weekly
This memoir from two sisters who fled Afghanistan 20 years apart distinguishes itself from the spate of books about women in similar circumstances by the sheer breadth of its coverage. Through these first-hand accounts of oppression, abuse and downright misery, readers come to understand that the much-maligned Taliban only picked up where the Mujihaddin left off in curtailing women's rights. In fact, as "Sulima" and "Hala"'s mother points out, "[The Taliban] is better than the Mujihaddin. The laws are strict and harsh, but at least we know what to expect. They're not just randomly breaking into houses and killing people.... If we keep all the rules, then we will be safe." The sisters' tales of domestic abuse and other now-familiar yet hair-raising injustices may crystallize the turbulent historical timeline, but it seems that their individual voices have been muted in translation. Unfortunately, it's so difficult to distinguish one from the other that much of the impact of this well-intentioned book is lost. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471263890
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,384,803
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

BATYA SWIFT YASGUR is a freelance writer of both nonfiction and fiction. She won the 1995 Mystery Writers of America's Robert L. Fish Award for Best First Published Story and the Coalition of Alternatives in Jewish Education's David Dornstein Memorial Creative Writing Award for short fiction. She is the author of America: A Freedom Country (published by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service), the project through which she met Hala, one of the sisters whose story is told in Behind the Burqa. She is also the coauthor of Women at Risk, a book about cervical cancer and the HPV virus.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments.

Introduction.

Part One: Sulima.

Part Two: Hala.

Epilogue by Sulima and Hala.

How You Can Help.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2005

    mind-blowing

    Powerful book, very informative. Searing. A must-read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2005

    still current, still powerful

    There have--fortunately!!--been many books published about women in Muslim countries and the oppression they suffer. They are all valuable contributions to the Western understanding of the lives of so many of our 'sisters' in foreign countries. But I think that this book is still the most powerful. From a stylistic point of view, it is a page-turner. The author clearly has a fiction-writing background, because this reads like a well-crafted suspense novel. Also, it brings oppression home to our own shores and makes us take a hard (though very uncomfortable) look at American practices of oppression. All in all, I'd highly recommend the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2004

    Very Current

    I had read this book a while ago but only just noticed that on the cover, it says 'soon to be a Court-TV movie.' Last night, the movie CHASING FREEDOM was on Court TV and at the end, the credits referred to this book. The movie and the book are so important--and BEHIND THE BURQA is amazing reading. I highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2003

    LOVED IT, LOVED IT, LOVED IT!

    I couldn't put it down. It read like an incredible novel, a page-turner. These are amazing women. And Yasgur is a terrific storyteller. If you're going to buy a book as a holiday gift this year, this is the one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2003

    Shattering and Illuminating

    This book was incredible. I couldn't put it down. I learned a lot, cried, trembled and was totally transformed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2003

    Gut wrenching

    I couldn't put the book down and I find myself worrying for the rest of their family and friends. We Americans live in such an isolated culture and the average citizen rarely has a clue as to what is truly going on in the rest of the world. It is important to know this story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2002

    Powerful and Real and True

    I am Afghan. This book moved me. It came from my country. My culture. It showed history more than other memoirs. It can make Americans understand what we went through as Afghan women. What we still go through. The book made me cry. It was real and true to history. Sulima and Hala's story is my story. And the story of my mother and my grandmother and my sisters and my cousins.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2002

    AMAZING WOMEN

    I was awed by the two sisters in this book. I admire their courage and creativity, especially how Hala used music, poetry and prayer to survive the dangers posed by the Mujihaddin, the imprisonment imposed by the Taliban and her detention in the U.S. She comes across as a beautiful human being.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2002

    Growing Up Religious

    I am a man who comes from a very religious background. I can identify with these sisters and the harsh treatment they received at the hands of fundamentalists. I also felt entrapped in my own environment. It's intereseting that one sister chose to break with Islam while the other found comfort in Islam and remained a religious Muslim. I have a lot of respect for both of them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2002

    STAGGERING

    I read memoirs because they add a dimension to my understanding of human reactions to trauma, which helps me work with clients. This was one of the best I've ever read---amazingly suspenseful, but it had the bonus of also being quite informative. It really brought me into the inner world and consciousness of two very different women, each reacting in her own unique way to terrible circumstances. I felt I was truly living their story together with them

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2002

    I COULDN'T PUT THIS DOWN

    BEHIND THE BURQA is nonfiction but feels like a finely crafted suspense novel. Totally riveting. It's also informative about major social issues--Afghan women's rights and the rights of foreign detainees in the US.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2002

    It's everything a good book should be

    BEHIND THE BURQA has got it all¿¿chair-gripping suspense, social and humanitarian value, educational and historical material. I sat glued to the book from beginning to end. It is wonderful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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