Because I Am a Girl

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The Independent Culture

The idea of a charity anthology of stories and reports by well-known authors to raise funds for a child-centred development agency sounds like a recipe for soporific worthiness. Yet these pieces, inspired by visits to Plan's projects to empower girls and young women, are edgier and bolder than that. For all the good-news stories (schooling, contraception, campaigns against HIV or sexual abuse), several authors dwell on the darker side. Xiaolu Guo, in Cambodia, crafts a dream-like tale of a lost daughter and a "jungle girl". Kathy Lette, as diplomatic as a rampaging puma, returns from Brazil comparing local men to "swine" and assures us: "Catholicism kills". Marie Phillips is so furious at patriarchal attitudes in Uganda that Plan's local director gets a bruised right of reply. It's not your standard do-good, feel-good collection at all. BT