The attacks on schoolgirls in Afghanistan continued this week with reports of airborne poisoning of 48 girls and 5 teachers in a school in Kunduz. The victims suddenly became ill, collapsed and were then taken to the hospital.
The wave of recent attacks aimed at preventing girls from attending school have sickened a total of more than 80 in the Kunduz province, located in northern Afghanistan. The Telegraph reports that in 2008, 92 people died and 169 were injured in 292 attacks on schools. In a particularly horrifying event in 2008, two men on motorcycles threw acid on the faces of girls who were walking to class at Mirwais Nika Girls High School in Kandhar.
Afghan schoolgirls listen to their teacher as they sit in a classroom in a Turkish-Afghan school in Herat December 12, 2009. Photo: Morteza Nikoubaz/Reuters
Local authorities blame the Taliban for the attack earlier this week, but a Taliban spokesperson denied any involvement, according to Al Jazeera.
Under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, females were not allowed access to any level of education (female teachers were also banned). Schools began to reopen in 2001 and 2002 following American occupation, but major improvements have been slow in coming due to strong cultural resistance to the education of females, which is believed by some to be corrupting society.
Some girls are allowed to attend school at younger ages only to be pulled out before they hit their teenage years. As one Afghan man quoted by AOL news said, "I'm willing to let my daughters go to school but only to a point, maybe until they are 11 or 12 years old. After that, why do they need an education? Their life will be in the home."
The education of Afghan females is central to mitigating the years of instability that has plagued Afghanistan—yet just 17 percent of Afghan women can read and write and high estimates suggest that just 30 percent of Afghan girls are enrolled in school. The news of the latest attacks serves as an unfortunate and sobering reminder that more than 75 million children around the world do not have access to a quality education. It's a basic human right. Use the action link below to find out how you can support the Global Campaign for Education.