150 Schoolgirls Poisoned in Kabul, Afghanistan

Before the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Taliban had banned Afghan girls from attending school, considering such education to be Un-Islamic. Since then females have been slowly returning to education, especially in urban areas like Kabul. However, there are still elements within Afghan society who are vehemently opposed to the education of Afghan females, and it appears would rather kill them than allow them to attend school.

Earlier this week, 150 Afghan schoolgirls at a high school in the north were poisoned after the contamination of their drinking water.

“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.

The officials are certain the water jugs they drank from were deliberately contaminated because the larger tank used to fill the jugs had no trace of the poison.

The attack is particularly worrying as it happened in the north as opposed to the traditional Taliban strongholds in the south and east. It casts doubt on the Afghan government’s assertion last year that the Taliban would no longer oppose female education.

The Afghan Education Ministry has blamed the Taliban for at least 17 poison-gas attacks on female schools in 2010. With 2.7 million girls in Afghan Schools now, it appears that none of them can consider themselves safe from Taliban reprisals.

As Farooq Wardak, Afghanistan’s Education Minister, has noted, “During the Taliban era the percentage of girls of the one million students that we had was 0 percent. The percentage of female teachers was 0 percent. Today 38 percent of our students and 30 percent of our teachers are female.”

Civil rights groups for woman in Afghanistan are concerned that after the Coalition forces have completely vacated the region in 2014, peace talks between the Afghan Government and the Taliban will result in the withdrawal of women’s rights in the area and the abandonment of female education completely.