In most cities of Afghanistan, some girls are often seen wearing boys` clothes. Although they tried hard to act and look like boy but actually they are girls. They can roam almost freely on the road, which is quite unimaginable for girls in conservative Afghanistan. These girls imitating boys are called ‘bacha posh’. According to the Afghan version of Persian or the Dari language ‘bacha posh’ means `girl, who dressed like boy`. And bacha posh is a social practice common in Afghanistan and Pakistan in which some families without sons pick a daughter to live and behave as a boy.
Afghanistan, the land locked country of South Asia, is not very favorable for the girl child. Gender discrimination is a very common phenomenon in Afghan society. According to the United Nations, Save the Children and the Thompson-Reuters Foundation, Afghanistan is the worst country for women. In the strong patriarchal Afghan society having no son in the family is considered a curse. Therefore, to fulfill the responsibility of not having a son, a family chose a girl to raise her as a bacha posh. There is folklore common in those regions that if a girl child raised as a bacha posh, then there is a chance that the next child would be a boy.
Bacha Posh is treated as a boy in society. They do not have to face the adverse societal behaviour for women in that conservative society. By growing up as a boy they can enjoy a lot more freedom than a girl. They can go out alone, play and can work.
But as soon as puberty strikes, the period of the bacha posh girl of being a bacha posh comes to an end. The family wants the girl to return to the girl`s life. But not everyone wants to return willingly. After growing up as a boy mentally, many of them want to live as bacha posh forever. Many who refused to return have adapted the male entity and refused their sexual orientation.
Azita Rafa`at is one of the women parliamentarians of the Afghan parliament. Azita, who was elected from Badghis Province in Afghanistan, made her youngest daughter a bacha posh in the absence of a son. In an interview with the New York Times, she said, "I know you are surprised that how a mother can do such things with her little girl. But see, it`s Afghanistan. There are so many things going on here that are out of the Western concept."
As long as the human being will not been considered as equal, weird social practice like bacha posh will remain there for sure. And hundreds of thousands of girl children of conservative countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan will be the victim of this tragic practice.