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The novel tells of the two Afghan women Miriam and Laila. They are the victims and/or recipients of patriarchal authority and benevolence dolled out according to patriarchal authorized whim, as when Miriam's miscarriages result in beating for trivial or false reasons. Religion dominates the patriarchal rule so that religion and unthinking tradition rule women and patriarchs alike, but of course religion rules woman with a firmer had as witnessed by the requirement Rasheed insists on of Miriam wearing a burka (burqa) in public.
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