Author(s): Zarghuna Kargar
In 2001 Zarghuna Kargar came to the UK as an asylum-seeker. She and her family were forced to leave their home in Kabul during the civil war and then spent several years as refugees in Pakistan. Zarghuna trained as a journalist with BBC Worldwide in Peshawar, and when she came to London she quickly got a job working at the BBC. In 2004 she became the producer and presenter for the ground-breaking ‘Afghan Women’s Hour’ – a programme which aired discussions, stories and advice covering issues – many of which were controversial and had never before been raised – faced by Afghan women every day. The programme was broadcast to millions of people across Afghanistan where it attracted huge audiences, of both men and women. It was profoundly influential, bringing education, support and encouragement to countless women. It is this programme, and the stories that Zarghuna heard, that have inspired this book. From the experience of being sold off in marriage as a child bride, to living as a widow shunned by society, to a childhood spent in a dark, dusty room weaving carpets - Dear Zari bring us stories which are personal and emotional, revealing how many of the customs in this deeply religious and intensely traditional society cause real suffering for women. These women have been moved to share their stories with Zarghuna in the hope that they might help someone else. And we also hear Zarghuna’s own incredible story, growing up as a refugee, beginning a new life in the west and dealing with an arranged marriage. She is a brave and compassionate advocate for these women, facing her own cultural pressures, and giving hope and reassurance to so many by bringing their experiences into light for the first time. Profoundly moving, tender, and even, at times, funny, these tales of women's life in Afghanistan are never depressing and open up a fascinating and intimate world to a new audience.
Zarghuna Kargar was born in Kabul in 1982. In late 1994, after Soviet troops forced out the government - in which her father was minister for information - and civil war erupted across Afghanistan, she and her family fled and sought refuge in Pakistan. Zarghuna completed her education in Peshawar in Pakistan: she studied at a refugee university and attended a journalism course organised by the BBC. Then in 2001 her family sought asylum in the UK, and she started working for the BBC World Service Pashto Section on an award-winning project focused on supporting Afghan refugees. She joined the team on the ground-breaking programme 'Afghan Woman's Hour', as producer and presenter in 2004, until it was discontinued in 2010. Zarghuna now works on current affairs programmes for the BBC Persian Service, frequently covering topics relating to women's issues. She lives in London.