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The wearing of hijab and burqa is discouraged, as men and women are considered equals.
From Laila and particularly from Aziza, Mariam learns of the power of love.
Aziza loves her despite everything—despite her shame (being born out of wedlock) or her aging face.
When Laila and Mariam attempt to run away from Rasheed, the police catch them and return them home to their abusive husband.
It is unlawful for a woman to run away from her husband—even if he is a brutal abuser like Rasheed.
Enemies after Laila marries Rasheed, they become joined in suffering his abuse.
As Rasheed turns on his younger wife, Mariam sympathizes.After the Mujahideen take over and establish an Islamic state in 1992, there are increased laws limiting the freedom of women, supposedly in accordance with a strict interpretation of Islamic law.Women are required by law to cover, are forbidden to travel unaccompanied by a male relative, and punished by stoning to death if they commit adultery.Following the Taliban takeover in 1996, women’s rights are the most severely restricted.Women are now required to stay inside the home at all times, and cannot leave unless accompanied by a male relative. Laila and Mariam are not beaten by police when caught trying to run away under the Mujahideen; however, Laila is beaten numerous times when trying to visit her daughter in the orphanage.Mariam will be strengthened, and not diminished, by Laila’s entry into her home.Laila, too, will gain from her relationship with the older woman.Under the Taliban, women are forbidden from attending school or working.As a result, nearly 90 percent of Afghan women today are illiterate.Mariam and Laila are quite different in some respects.Mariam is rather homely, while Laila is a stunning beauty.