Even the most misogynistic of societies can accept sexes cross-dressing as each other to adopt each other's roles; proof, surely, that swapping one gender role for another is hardly what one could call progressive.

As Najieh said, it's the roles themselves that must change, to end the suffering, so that women don't feel the need to be men and men don't feel the need to be women.

Until they are of marriageable age, at which point they go back inside and under cover and are treated like cattle again.

There's a very good book about the bacha posh called "The Underground Girls of Kabul" if anyone wants to know more.

How very cruel. For me, it only felt like my humanity was over when my period started.

In Afghanistan’s heavily patriarchal, male-dominated society, where women and girls are usually relegated to the home, bacha posh, Dari for “dressed as a boy,” is the one tradition allowing girls access to the freer male world.

Under the practice, a girl dresses, behaves and is treated as a boy, with all the freedoms and obligations that entails. The child can play sports, attend a madrassa, or religious school, and, sometimes crucially for the family, work. But there is a time limit: Once a bacha posh reaches puberty, she is expected to revert to traditional girls’ gender roles. The transition is not always easy.

“When I put on girls’ clothes, I thought I was in prison,” said Najieh, who grew up as a bacha posh... Now 34, married and with four children of her own, she weeps for the freedom of the male world she has lost.

“In Afghanistan, boys are more valuable,” she said. “There is no oppression for them, and no limits. But being a girl is different. She gets forced to get married at a young age.”

Young women can’t leave the house or allow strangers to see their face, Najieh said. And after the Taliban takeover, she lost her job as a schoolteacher because she had been teaching boys.

“Being a man is better than being a woman,” she said, wiping tears from her eye. “It is very hard for me… If I were a man, I could be a teacher in a school.”

“I wish I could be a man, not a woman. To stop this suffering.”

If you're interested in learning about bacha posh, I recommend The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg. She interviews several bacha posh and shows that the practice is rooted in patriarchal misogyny, as families who lack a son will dress a daughter up as a boy, because even a pretend son brings more social prestige (along with an income stream) than a daughter. Nordberg did a poignant follow-up interview with a bacha posh, Faheema, who had the privilege to attend college in the USA. This is what Faheema said at the end of her stay:

"I’m in my twenties now, and I don’t expect to live long. A woman’s average life in Afghanistan is 44 years, so I’m halfway done. I would like to stay here and become an anthropologist, but my American visa expires in a few months, and then I have to return home.

My father still only accepts me as a boy, not as a girl. We talk on Skype: He is a macho colonel in Afghanistan who calls me every day. Like my close friends, he is still allowed to call me by my boy name. But I know now that both my family and much of my society was wrong in saying that only boys can do certain things. They are the ones who don’t allow girls to do anything.

I have complicated feelings about the freedom I have here in the West. It’s borrowed. It’s not really mine. Deep down you know it’s going to be taken away at any moment. Just like that of a bacha posh."

Millenia of women and girls' potential has been dumped down the drain all so some man can have an in-home maid/sex slave/broodmare. Women hold up half the goddamn sky and males wonder why the world's going to shit!? That's what happens when you keep the other half of humanity on our knees so men can feel powerful, the sky starts to crumble and fall.

“I wish I could be a man, not a woman. To stop this suffering.”

My heart breaks. Fuck anyone denying that women need SEX based rights in the world.