The BBC documentary Women, Weddings, War and Me follows 21-year-old British Afghan Nel Hedayat (pictured below) as she returns to Afghanistan 15 years after she and her family left.
The accompanying article was my first exposure to Hedayat’s experience there, and it provides a different perspective than the documentary did. The article came across as another replay of the broken record of dual British Muslim identities and the experience of women in non-Western countries as unrelentingly tragic, while the women themselves are dismissed as possible agents in their own lives. My view of the documentary is a little more complicated than this, but I’m going to address the article first.
From the first sentence (“Growing up in north London, identity was never really a big issue.”), I was skeptical about the entire project. I may know little about Afghanistan, but I’ve lived in north London for almost twenty years. Identity is an issue and being different is not the norm.