The Hidden Flames, a fiction book written by a former child bride and a successful writer based in Kabul, Zahra Yaganah is now also accessible outside of Afghanistan. The book is available for international shipment through Azmin.co and amazon.com.
The book is based on the real story of Yaganah’s life, a tragic story that I have heard repeated in various forms from so man Afghan women. Others read the book and were moved to tears. One young woman told me she began and finished the book in one night. The main character, Zahra, in the story is being beaten and suffering from abuse by her drug-addicted husband. The violence brought her near death many times.
Unfortunately every Afghan knows a similar story of violence and many havr even survived similar situations, but Zahra was brave enough to write her story uncensored, which so many readers found refreshing, the book ultimately becoming a best seller in Afghanistan. In the book, Yaganah breaks taboos. She writes explicitly about topics such as marital rape, menstruation and the lifelong damage caused to women by child marriages.
Zahra Yaganah, in an interview with The Guardian says: “It is impossible for Afghan women to read this book and not find an issue that reflects their life story,” she says. “Women can find their path, despite all the problems they have.” She discusses her perceptions about marriage, culture and her attitude towards her husband: “I thought I had to serve my husband like a king.” Barely a teenager, she had no concept of what penetrative sex meant. The morning after the marriage was consumated, she woke up in hospital.
In an interview with the Kabul based newspaper 8 AM, she explained that the book is not only for Afghan women, but for everyone including men in Afghanistan. She hopes that her book can help liberate Afghan women and educate readers about women’s lives, menstruation, and how some cultural norms in Afghan society are so harmful to women and girls, and ultimately, prompt a discussion about how to overcome them.