We recently posted about the compelling and disturbing image featured in Time magazine of a young Afghan woman whose in-laws sliced her nose and ears off as punishment for “disobedience”.
Today, we’re saddened to learn of another incident of brutal violence perpetuated against Afghan girls and women. As CNN reports, dozens of schoolgirls and teachers in Afghanistan were sickened by poison gas while attending a high school. This is the ninth such case involving the poisoning of schoolgirls.
Nicholas Kristof, NYT columnist and acclaimed author of Half the Sky has reported on this horrific terrorist trend. In a recent column, he reported an incident in which men on motorcycles threw acid on a group of girls who dared to attend school in Afghanistan. One of the girls, a 17-year-old named Shamsia, told reporters from her hospital bed: “I will go to my school even if they kill me. My message for the enemies is that if they do this 100 times, I am still going to continue my studies.”
Unfortunately, it is all too common for attacks like these to go unpunished. While the attacks were carried out by terrorists, there are actions that state officials and governments can take to ensure that the girls and women have access to the education they need to lead healthy and full lives. Governments—in Afghanistan and beyond—must work to establish and implement laws, programs, and policies for zero-tolerance of abuse and violence. Political, civic, traditional, religious and other leaders should publicly condemn all forms of sexual harassment, abuse, and violence and initiate and implement laws, programs, and policies that guarantee the fulfillment of the human rights of women in order to create a truly safe spaces for girls inside schools and for women in their communities.
For more, we encourage you to read this report (links to PDF) compiled last year by CARE documenting education-related attacks in 2008.
Click here to learn more about IWHC’s work in Asia, the Middle East, and north Africa.