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Meet Nadia Ghulam, the Woman Who Disguised As a Man For 10 Years to Survive Taliban

Afghan author and activist Nadia Ghulam disguised as a man for a decade. (Credits: Twitter/@nadiaghulam)

Afghan author and activist Nadia Ghulam disguised as a man for a decade. (Credits: Twitter/@nadiaghulam)

Nadia, who has gained international fame, fooled the Taliban outfit by disguising as a boy for 10 years.

The return of the Taliban in Afghanistan is an undeniable setback for Afghans and all countries across the globe. As Kabul airport is now open for evacuation flights, countries scramble to evacuate their citizens from the turmoil-hit Afghanistan. The evacuation process by countries comes in the backdrop of the deteriorating security situation and increasing Taliban hostility in the city after it fell to the militant outfit a week back. Once again, the wounds have turned green as the Taliban’s comeback after 20 years has reminded people of some old stories which speak of the regime’s atrocities against women. Among these stories, Nadia Ghulam’s tale of betrayal is well-known. Nadia, who has gained international fame, fooled the Taliban outfit by disguising as a boy for 10 years. Despite being a girl, she moved around without a burqa and hijab.

She was a citizen of Afghanistan and when the Taliban came to power, she was denied the right to study or work. Therefore, to take care of her house, Nadia had to live a lie that threatened her life every moment. At the tender age of 8, she had seen her house getting bombed and her brother die.

Looking at the situation around her, Nadia took the decision of disguising as a boy. The step was not only difficult to carry out but also had danger at every step. Nadia was just 11 when she changed her identity from a girl to a boy. At an age when a girl stays in the protective umbrella of her family, Nadia decided to not back down from her rights and fight for it. There were several instances when her secret was about to get revealed but with good luck on her side, she escaped every time.

While adapting to the way boys dress up, talk, and do other stuff, she had forgotten that she was a girl. For 10 years, Nadia struggled to provide financial help to her family. Fortunately, with the help of an NGO, she managed to get out of the country.

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Currently, she resides in Spain as an Afghan refugee. Collaborating with journalist Agnes Rotger, Nadia has also written a book based on her life, titled El secret del meu turbant (The Secret of My Turban).

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first published:August 25, 2021, 13:27 IST