Afghani schoolgirls poisoned by Taliban

About 150 Afghan schoolgirls were poisoned on Tuesday after drinking contaminated water at a high school in the country’s north, officials said, blaming it on conservative radicals opposed to female education .

Since the 2001 toppling of the Taliban, which banned education for women and girls, females have returned to schools, especially in Kabul.

But periodic attacks still occur against girls, teachers and their school buildings, usually in the more conservative south and east of the country, from where the Taliban insurgency draws most support.

“We are 100 percent sure that the water they drunk inside their classes was poisoned. This is either the work of those who are against girls’ education or irresponsible armed individuals,” said Jan Mohammad Nabizada, a spokesman for education department in northern Takhar province.

Some of the 150 girls, who suffered from headaches and vomiting, were in critical condition, while others were able to go home after treatment in hospital, the officials said.

They said they knew the water had been poisoned because a larger tank used to fill the affected water jugs was not contaminated. “This is not a natural illness. It’s an intentional act to poison schoolgirls ,” said Haffizullah Safi, head of Takhar’s public health department.

None of the officials blamed any particular group for the attack, fearing retribution from anyone named.

The Afghan government said last year that the Taliban, which has been trying to adopt a more moderate face to advance exploratory peace talks, had dropped its opposition to female education. But the insurgency has never stated that explicitly and in the past acid has been thrown in the faces of women and girls by hardline Islamists while walking to school .

Education for women was outlawed by the Taliban government from 1996-2001 as un-Islamic.

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One comment on “Afghani schoolgirls poisoned by Taliban
  1. Rahul says:

    I wholeheartedly agree that sbomoedy in the US Cabinet should have recognized the shortsightedness and idiocy of US backing of the Taliban.However, women’s rights and opportunities were improving well before the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan took power. Even under Zahir Shah, women got the right to vote and run for parliament, and the first women served as ministers. Actually, he started the first high schools for girls during WWII. He overturned laws requiring women be veiled in the 1950s. He wasn’t fast but it was progress. When Muhammed Daoud Khan became president in 1973, he sped up the process, enforcing laws already in place that outlawed bride price and polygamy, establishing even greater educational opportunities for women. Rural women were still mostly out of this loop, though.Many womens groups did support and contribute to the rise of PDPA, and the communists really did try to expedite reform. Sadly, they were hamfisted and arrogant about it and a backlash occurred, which they responded to by summarily executing citizens they thought might be perhaps maybe be involved. As these uprisings were mostly in the rural north, in the very areas where women were then most repressed, and the mass executions so grisly, the reform efforts did not help the people who most needed it.But this is exactly what I mean about the “failure to win the hearts and mind,” something the US and the Soviets failed to do many times, in many places. The executions were actually before the Soviet invasion, but the Soviets were instrumental in getting the PDPA in power, and even many communists and feminists were outraged that the Soviets invaded. The Mujahideen garnered support in the rural areas to fight the communists/Soviets. And then the US throws its support behind the Mujahideen. With both the Soviets and the US playing Cold War chess with the Aghan factions, both poisoned their reputations for supporting human rights generally, and women’s rights specifically, in Afghanistan. Sorry I’m oversimplyfying here. The point I’m trying to get to is that an understandable distrust of outsiders arises (not just in Afghanistan but the Congo, Malaysia, etc), that taints the relationships that international women’s groups, or other human rights groups, tries to develop with the citizenry or the powers of a state. Furthermore, no outside group can be as sensitive to, or as informed about, methods to effecting change and the fallout that may incur.Sorry, this is a much longer post than I planned & I’m leaving it with only questions, not answers given the crap cart we’ve inherited, how do we, outsiders, impart the idea that women have rights and should not be, for example, poisoned for attending school, to people within a state who think they are right to do this? How do we, or can we, prevent this from happening again?

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