In Afghanistan, the struggle for basic rights for women continues to be a struggle for life itself. Today officials confirmed that 160 were poisoned in what is viewed as another attack by Muslim extremists. Last month, 170 schoolgirls and three teachers were poisoned. Muslim extremists oppose the education of women and the Karzai Administration, while supporting such education, has been accused of rolling back on the gains of women and girls following the fall of the Taliban. These “men of God” continue to believe that killing or maiming little girls pleases Allah and makes them spiritually pure, including throwing acid in the faces of little girls. Fortunately, there is no word of deaths yet and many children have been released from the hospital.
The Taliban has called for the closing of schools in the area. Controlling schools means controlling the minds of the populace. In a less common attack on boys, nearly 400 boys at a school in Khost province were recently poisoned. That brings the total to about 750 children poisoned in these areas in a few weeks.
The latest case involved the spraying of a toxic material in the classroom used by the girls at the Aahan Dara Girls School in Taluqan, the provincial capital. The Taliban leadership insist that it was a frame up by the government which poisoned the girls to “defame” the group.
It seems likely that these dangers to children, particularly girls, will increase with the resumption of control of the country by the corrupt and ineffectual Karzai government. The thought of women and girls being placed again under the medieval conditions of the Taliban is frightening. Watching the violence against women and girls only serves to reaffirm the doubts of what we have accomplished after over 3000 deaths of military personnel, hundreds of thousands of dead civilians, and hundreds of billions of dollars of funding in the country. The Taliban is still in control of many areas and the Karzai government is yielding to greater and greater demands of extreme faith-based repression.