"It is a garment that came to Afghanistan only 150 years ago. It is not Islamic. It came from India and was worn in the cities to show the gentrification of the husband," Gross said. "It was worn by people entering the middle class."
She has met many women from cities and villages who say they would burn the garments if they weren't forced to wear them.
Elyas Zarra, the education minister, says the garment is both a physical and psychological barrier.
"The [burka] stops women from doing something better with their lives. They all feel angry. They feel unhappy," he said. "If they take off the [burka], they feel free. They can see. They can do something better."
But he says that, in the northern part of Afghanistan, it is a choice made by individual families--at least by the men--most of whom still support the burka.