This is a fine collection of 20th century Third World stories about women, most of which were written by men, which is at least a partial clue to the status of the ladies in these countries. Nearly all of them are bound by the traditions of their cultures: arranged (often child) marriages with anyone from eunuchs to wife-beaters to drunkards, a double standard that kills or exiles women who have sex with someone other than their husbands, suicide their one escape. The only women who even begin to move out of this deadening circle are those who seek education abroad or, conversely, take to the hills in guerrilla warfare, though even the latter fight more against strictly political oppression (e.g. against the U.S. troops in Vietnam) than sexism itself. With its glimpses into the customs of the kind of small villages Americans prefer to bomb than visit, this is a fascinating collection, oddly reassuring for what it shows, at least by contrast, about conditions in our own, surprisingly liberated, country.
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