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By the time the Soviets withdrew in , the toll of the U. With the country in ruins, and little U. The Taliban arose against this backdrop. Government] views on areas of key concern to us—stability, human rights, narcotics and terrorism. If the people of Afghanistan had little reason to trust U.

Zoya is our guide, our witness to the horrors perpetrated by the Taliban and the Mujahideen "holy warriors" who had defeated the Russian occupiers. She helped to secretly film a public cutting of hands in a Kabul stadium and to organize covert literacy classes, as schooling-branded a "gateway to Hell" -- was forbidden to girls. At an Afghan refugee camp she heard tales of heartrending suffering and worked to provide a future for families who had lost everything.

The spotlight focused on Afghanistan after the New York and Washington terrorist attacks highlights the conditions of repression and fear in which Afghan women live and makes Zoya's Story utterly compelling. This is a memoir that speaks louder than the images of devastation and outrage; it is a moving message of optimism as Zoya struggles to bring the plight of Afghan women to the world's attention. The woman who narrated this story to two journalists does not use her real name. She is a member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan RAWA , created in the s to resist first the fundamentalist mullahs, then the Russians, then their successors, the mujahideen and the Taliban.

In , the year Zoya turned eight, her mother finally explained that it was her work for RAWA that kept her so busy. Soon Zoya was carrying secret papers in her backpack as she accompanied her mother on political work. She learned to lie about her mother's whereabouts and came to realize that, though her mother loved her, work came first.

That realization signalled the end of her childhood: "I feel no sadness about this.. I wanted to grow up fast so that I could achieve something useful. Mujahideen soldiers forcibly entered homes demanding that young women marry them; it was dangerous to be out on the streets, even for women in burqas. When the Taliban took over, she began working in the refugee camps in Pakistan, returning only once heavily disguised to Kabul.

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She vividly describes Taliban atrocities, the grossly inadequate medical care for women most female doctors fled , and the absurdity of wearing the cumbersome burqa, in which "something as mundane as eating ice cream became a ridiculous undertaking". Timely and sobering. A refugee worker called Zoya has continually challenged the oppressive religious edicts and her struggle for freedom and basic human rights are portrayed in Zoya's Story by Zoya with John Follain and Rita Cristofari. It is a story of bravery, determination and love for a nation that has been treated deplorably and whose people daily live in fear for their lives.

You hope the new government will make changes, but don't hold your breath. Zoya is a woman in her early twenties who would like us to think that she is no more special than any other Afghan woman her age. Her story begins with a vivid evocation of the heat and discomfort under her burka, as she crosses the border into Afghanistan after a long absence, this time as a member of RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the women of Afghanistan. We then see her as a four-year-old iin Kabul, where she comes face to face with a female Soviet soldier - the enemy and occupier of her country.