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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Taliban Attacks School Girls

Shamsia Husseini has gone back to the Mirwais School for Girls in Kandahar.

Shamsia is the 17-year-old young woman who had acid thrown into her face in November, to punish her because she wanted an education. She explains that "my parents told me to keep coming to school even if they want to kill me." Local sources tell AsiaNews about the difficult situation for women in the country.

14 other women have been attacked with acid, between students and teachers at the school. For a little while, all of the girls stayed away from school. Then the authorities promised more police, more supervision, they spoke of the importance of education for their lives and for society. Now almost all of the 1,300 female students in the area have gone back to school.

Shamsia also suffered damage to her eyes, and sometimes has trouble reading. She says that "the people who did this to me don't want women to be educated." Her mother is illiterate, like almost all the adult women in the area. Many students are almost 20 years old, and are going to school for the first time.

Local sources tell AsiaNews that "Shamsia and her family are demonstrating heroic courage in the face of the total opposition of the Taliban toward education for women. This is all the more admirable because they live in Kandahar, the holy city of the Taliban. Afghan women have a great desire for education, in Kabul and in the other cities there are often more students in classes for girls than for boys. But this progress has not yet been seen in the villages, where the Taliban have more power."

The Taliban are accused of the violence. In their regime, girls were forbidden to go to school. Now the schools are one of their main targets, and they have burned hundreds of them. Before these attacks, in the streets and in many mosques of Kandahar there were fliers with phrases like: "Don't send your daughters to school."

Read all of it here.

My Pakistani friends report that the situation is worse in Northern Pakistan where the Taliban have blown up girls' schools.

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