Gender And Human Rights In Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner

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Since I first picked up Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, as an assigned text for my senior AP English literature class, I was fascinated with the small Middle Eastern country of Afghanistan. Of course I had heard about Afghanistan before. Every child my age was taught about Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks. Thus Afghanistan was portrayed in a negative light, with a focus on the Taliban and al Qaeda, so I, along with my classmates, grew up to view this country rather negatively. My view changed when I finished The Kite Runner. I realized that this was an incredibly old country, rich in its unique culture, and should not be solely defined by its recent interactions with the United States. However, another issue was brought to my attention at this time, as highlighted in this novel and Hosseini’s follow up, A Thousand Splendid Suns. This issue was gender and human rights. Throughout most of Afghanistan’s history, women have not been treated as equals, and are instead viewed as property. A Thousand Splendid Suns demonstrates one of the worst times to be a women in Afghanistan, under the rule of the Taliban and their harsh interpretation of shari’a law in the late 1990s until 2001. The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra further looks at the unequal treatment of men and women under the Taliban, but also looks at the issue of men who are not perceived to be as masculine as they should be. Finally, The Kite Runner looks at the institutionalized sexism of Afghan culture and the gender roles that Afghan children are expected to uphold. Although each is a work of fiction, the authors do an excellent job of revealing the human rights issue of gender in their native country. Now that Afghanistan has been brought to the attention of the... ... middle of paper ... ...ment of women in Afghanistan was. This novel leaves such an impact because it spans several decades, and highlights the treatment of and attitudes toward women through multiple periods in Afghanistan’s history, and not just the worst under the Taliban. It is easy to lump together a group of people and lament over their abuses, but it was much more persuasive to experience it through these characters that the reader feels deeply connected to. The reader is there with Mariam as Rasheed ignores her except to call her stupid or give her orders. The reader is with Laila when she debates a home abortion instead of risking bringing another girl into the world. Hosseini’s portrayal of unequal treatment of women is persuasive and effective because it puts a face to those who were opposed. It makes the atrocities that women faced on a daily basis more real and more personal.

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