LETTER: Afghan romance

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The Independent Culture
LETTER:

Afghan romance

Sir: Your article on the BBC's soap opera for Afghanistan (25 July) made me remember an incident in the early days of New Home, New Life.

We had depicted a soft romance involving Gulalai and her soon-to-be husband, Sarwar. While pre-testing the programmes in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan, one of the questions we asked listening panels was: "What have you learnt from the programmes?" We knew that the soft romance would have to be discontinued when one woman answered: "I have learnt never to let my daughter outside the house, because if I do she may get a boyfriend and then she would be ineligible for marriage." This response made us realise that if we made Gulalai a role model for women's liberation, this would detract from the more important, life-saving health messages which she was earmarked to communicate.

If New Home, New Life has a cultural agenda, this has always been secondary to the educational agenda, and not vice versa.

JOHN BUTT

Founding Editor

`New Home, New Life'

Hargesia

Somaliland

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