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I Am a Bacha Posh

My Life as a Woman Living as a Man in Afghanistan

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A 2015 Amelia Bloomer List Selection

"You will be a son, my daughter." With these stunning words Ukmina learned that she was to spend her childhood as a boy.

In Afghanistan there is a widespread practice of girls dressing as boys to play the role of a son. These children are called bacha posh: literally "girls dressed as boys." This practice offers families the freedom to allow their child to shop and work—and in some cases, it saves them from the disgrace of not having a male heir. But in adolescence, religion restores the natural law. The girls must marry, give birth, and give up their freedom.

Ukmina decided to confront social and family pressure and keep her menswear. This brave choice paved the way for an extraordinary destiny: she wages war against the Soviets, assists the mujaheddin and ultimately commands the respect of all whom she encounters. She eventually becomes one of the elected council members of her province.

But freedom always has a price. For "Ukmina warrior" that price was her life as a woman. This is a stunning and brave memoir about a little known practice that will challenge your perceptions about gender and the courage it takes to live your life to the fullest.

Skyhorse Publishing, along with our Arcade, Good Books, Sports Publishing, and Yucca imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. Our list includes biographies on well-known historical figures like Benjamin Franklin, Nelson Mandela, and Alexander Graham Bell, as well as villains from history, such as Heinrich Himmler, John Wayne Gacy, and O. J. Simpson. We have also published survivor stories of World War II, memoirs about overcoming adversity, first-hand tales of adventure, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

"Manoori's autobiographical account is a wonderfully rich introduction to an uncommon (but by no means rare) Afghan tradition in which families choose to raise as a young daughter as a son. Her story upends the easy stereotypes we so readily apply to rural Afghans and their values." —Thomas Barfield, author of Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History

"A beautiful, fascinating tale about a little-known tradition that provides a snapshot of Pashtun village life in Afghanistan. Ukmina’s honest storytelling is enthralling and she is a source of strength for women the world over."—Laura Kasinof, author of Don’t Be Afraid of the Bullets and former New York Times correspondent in Yemen

"Manoori's autobiographical account is a wonderfully rich introduction to an uncommon (but by no means rare) Afghan tradition in which families choose to raise as a young daughter as a son. Her story upends the easy stereotypes we so readily apply to rural Afghans and their values." —Thomas Barfield, author of Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History

"A beautiful, fascinating tale about a little-known tradition that provides a snapshot of Pashtun village life in Afghanistan. Ukmina’s honest storytelling is enthralling and she is a source of strength for women the world over."—Laura Kasinof, author of Don’t Be Afraid of the Bullets and former New York Times correspondent in Yemen