Families without male children in Afghanistan that seek the prestige and security conveyed by having a son in the tribal culture engage in the centuries-old practice of dressing their girls as boys.
According to an in-depth report in The New York Times, the young girls dressed as boys are known as "bacha posh," which literally means "dressed up as a boy" in the Dari language.
"Afghan families have many reasons for pretending their girls are boys, including economic need, social pressure to have sons, and in some cases, a superstition that doing so can lead to the birth of a real boy," reports the Times. "Lacking a son, the parents decide to make one up, usually by cutting the hair of a daughter and dressing her in typical Afghan men's clothing. There are no specific legal or religious proscriptions against the practice. In most cases, a return to womanhood takes place when the child enters puberty. The parents almost always make that decision."