Dressed in a loose-fitting shirt and trousers, the traditional attire of men in Afghanistan, Rabia Balkhi navigated the streets of Kabul discreetly, her face covered with a mask at all times and her head down to avoid eye contact.
Divorced and raising a child alone, the 29-year-old was forced to dress as a man to escape attention from the Taliban, the hardline Islamist group who imposed severe restrictions on women after they seized power in August.
“Being a woman in Afghanistan is difficult, but it is worse for a single mother. And since the Taliban takeover, it has become harder,” Rabia said.
Now in hiding with her daughter, she spoke to The National on condition of anonymity, asking to use the name of a renowned female poet from Afghan history instead.
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