The Effects of Afghanistan War on Women

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Fighting is constant in Afghanistan and it affects women significantly. The men in their lives control women, and because of the oppressive government, they hold no power in society. A Thousand Splendid Suns, written by Khaled Hosseini is a story of two young women, Laila and Mariam, who face and overcome many hardships and live in a country destroyed by political oppression and war. Hosseini exposes the inner strength of Afghan women through the point of view of these two women; a strength that enables them to endure difficult situations including forced marriages, the Taliban insurrection, and a lack of educational opportunities.

The novel begins with Mariam who has to endure life since birth. Being a harami, or an illegitimate child, grows up in abandonment and neglect. She learns very early on from her mother that women like them only suffer, “It’s our lot in life, Mariam. Women like us. We endure. It’s all we have” (24). When her mother commits suicide, Mariam is plagued by guilt that controls her for much of her life. After the death of her mother, she has no where to go but to her father who rejects her and arranges her to be married to Rasheed. He is very abusive because she fails to produce a child. Mariam's inability to have children turns her into a resentful, bitter, and fearful woman, but it is her hope for a better future that keeps her alive.

The perspective than switches to Laila, who grows up in the time of war. Unlike Mariam, Laila grows up protected by her family and friends. Her father embedded into her head that marriage can wait, and that the most important thing is her education. He tells her, “a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated” (103). At age 15, Laila falls in love with her best friend since childhood, Tariq, but war forces Tariq and his parents to flee to Pakistan. Days later, a rocket kills Laila's parents and leaves her severely injured. Rasheed finds her and decides to nurse her back to health so that...
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