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From Ultimate High: my Everest Odyssey by Goran Kropp; Discovery Books NY, 1997:

February 11, Route: Babugarh  – Moradabad

India is paradise after Pakistan, and soon after passing the the India-Pakistan border, I met an exotic woman clad in beautiful shawls who spontaneously wishes me luck on my ;jurney. This makes me strangely happy. It’s been a long time since I saw a woman. In eastern Turkey, Iran and Pakistan I saw only men, and now, when a woman on the street even smiles at me, the whole world looks better. The landscape is the same as in Pakistan, but still, so much more beautiful.

Purdah or pardah (from Persian ... meaning "curtain") is a religious and social institution of female seclusion in Muslim-majority countries and South Asian countries. The Arabic equivalent is hijab. The term purdah is predominantly used in South Asia.

Purdah has “visual, spatial, and ethical dimensions” It refers to three main components: veiling of women, segregation of sexes, and a set of norms and attitudes that sets boundaries for Muslim women’s moral conduct.

Purdah is primarily practiced in majority-Muslim countries and Hindu communities in South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh). It varies broadly according to religions, region, nationality, cultures, and socioeconomic classes.

Fast forward to Afghanistan, Kabul, 5 September 2013:
The author of a popular memoir of life under the Taliban that was made into a major Bollywood movie was shot dead early Thursday morning, 18 years after militant leaders sentenced her to death after she refused to wear a burqa in public.

Sushmita Banerjee, who wrote about her experiences as an Indian woman married to an Afghan in her first book, “Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife,” was abducted by masked men just after midnight. The attackers broke into the couple’s home in the eastern province of Paktika, tied both up, but then left Ms. Banerjee’s husband behind when they took her away.

“They took her to their madrasa, the Al Jihad madrasa, in Sarrai Kala village,” said Dawlat Khan Zadran, the provincial police chief in Paktika. “She was shot 25 times. We don’t know why she was killed.”

Why are women so ugly in certain cultures?

Not that they ARE ugly, but they are considered so ugly that they must be hidden away. I'm just saying, from a Swedish point of view.

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