The Lovers

The Lovers

Afghanistan's Romeo & Juliet : the True Story of How They Defied Their Families and Escaped An Honor Killing

eBook - 2016
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In this brilliant, deeply reported account of two young people who risked their lives to be together, Pulitzer finalist Rod Nordland puts a face on the debate about women's rights in the fundamentalist Muslim world Zakia and Ali grew up as close friends on adjoining potato farms in the remote mountain province of Bamiyan. Separated when they reached puberty, Zakia, a beautiful and fiercely opinionated young woman, and Ali, a sensitive, handsome young man, fell in love and courted, remotely at first and then in Zakia's garden. Defying her family, Afghan custom, and Islamic law, Zakia left home to be with Ali and ended up in a women's shelter. The shelter saved her life, but she was unable to see Ali there so the two lovers decided to elope and went into hiding, pursued by Zakia's family. The author wrote about them in the New York Times, and having exposed them, felt obligated to help them to safety. After months of living in caves or staying trapped in small Kabul apartments, they finally, with Rod's help and donations from abroad, made a disastrous attempt to flee to Tajikistan. Forced to return to Kabul, they were closely tracked by Zakia's family?who briefly captured Ali?before they went back into hiding in the countryside. Despite a decade of American good intentions, women in Afghanistan are still subjected to some of the worst human rights violations in the world. The Lovers is Rod Nordland's compelling tale about his inability, even as a Westerner with money and will, to protect these young lovers' basic human rights. Recounting the stories of similar, though less fortunate, couples from his decades of experience in the region, Rod illustrates how common misogynistic cultural practices such as stoning, child marriage, and legalized rape are deeply ingrained in traditional Afghan culture. The United States has spent more than a billion dollars on efforts to train and improve the Afghan judiciary system, with a particular emphasis on women's rights and gender equality. As a result, Afghan law now technically outlaws many horrendous customary practices. But they remain prevalent nonetheless and give cover for people like Zakia's father and brothers, who still want to capture and kill her. Zakia and Ali still hope, against enormous odds, to flee the country. The Lovers is the story of their unshakable self-determination and the irrepressibility of human feeling in the face of a shockingly repressive culture. Advance Praise for The Lovers "This sensitive and unblinking portrait of love and injustice somehow encompasses Afghanistan's recent tragedy: hope, suffering, disillusionment, resilience. Rod Nordland has come as close as any Western reporter to the human heart beneath the headlines."?George Packer, author of The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America and The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq "A captivating account of forbidden love in one of the world's most conservative countries. Nordland takes the reader on his personal journey to save a couple from the inevitable doom of secret love in Afghanistan and reveals an unprecedented window into the country's cultural constraints. A blueprint of the struggle for Afghan women's rights."?lynsey addario, author of It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War "This is a much bigger story than that of the suspenseful elopement at its core, a romance between two lovers of unlikely courage who risk their lives to marry, written by the journalist who risked his professional detachment to champion their freedom. It is a searing analysis of the endemic gender terrorism in a culture where no woman of any age or class?including the cabinet...
Publisher: New York :, HarperCollins,, 2016
ISBN: 9780062378842
Characteristics: text file,rda
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Oct 30, 2017

So frustrating. I read to page 245 before I read of one decent outcome. Endless mistakes, hissy fits, missteps, and blunders. I wished with all my heart there was a satisfying outcome. I wish this couple well, but they struck me as incompetent and spoiled - taking money from donors and expecting everything for nothing.

Jun 15, 2016

Riveting and powerful sums it up. Makes us really appreciate our freedom of rights here in our country. Author did a great job of telling this couples story but also providing history and including other stories as well. For anyone reading I recommend following the foot-notes (I'm normally not one to do the foot-notes myself but I found the foot-notes as interesting and captivating as the book)

Apr 15, 2016

The author follows the desperate attempts on the part of Zakia and Ali to escape the attempts of her family to destroy them. The author also describes the fates of many other women in Afghanistan who go against their families' wishes. The same conditions exist for girls/women in other Middle East countries as well as in Europe and North America. These people deal with the principle of "Honor" which is nothing other than the belief that their daughters are their property. Should a woman disagree with her family, she is subject to beatings and eventually death. Unbelievably, the entire family, including the mother, siblings and extended family is part of the effort to punish the 'sinner'.
The history behind this system is tradition, age-old hatred of Sunni versus Sharia, the belief that women are less than human and a twisted interpretation of Islam. We can only hope that Zakia, Ali and their daughter are still safe.
Ayan Hirsi Ali is an internationally recognized author. She escaped from her country and family and now heads up the AHA Foundation. She works to help young girls and women to escape from forced marriages, female genital mutilation and 'honor' killings in the U.S. If you should want to learn more about this deviant behavior, you might read "Nomad". She has also written other books but this one, for me, was a compelling book on this subject.


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