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    » 01/15/2009, 00.00

    AFGHANISTAN

    Afghan girls risk lives to go to school



    The girls who had acid thrown into their faces in November in Kandahar have gone back to school. The difficult situation for women in Afghanistan, where being raped is a grave dishonor. The majority of beggars today are women.

    Kabul (AsiaNews) - 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."

    "In the country," continue the sources for AsiaNews, "it is important to assert that women have the same dignity as men. Now there are women in parliament, female judges, female managers, university professors, but there are still few of them. There is still a widespread mentality that women must simply obey."

    Yesterday, a 14-year-old girl was hospitalized. An inhabitant of a small village in the province of Bamiyan, five months ago she was raped and became pregnant. Her parents, in order to conceal the "shame," used a razor to open her abdomen, took out the fetus, and buried it. It was four days later before they brought her to the hospital for a serious infection, saying that a dog had bitten her in the stomach. But the doctors figured out what had happened.

    "Being raped," continues the source, "is considered a great dishonor. Yesterday, the minister for women's affairs, Hasin Banu Ghazanfar, said that 'there is an unacceptable tradition according to which Afghan women must only obey. This tradition has no religious or legal foundation, but is widespread'. In many areas, families still choose husbands for their daughters or force them to marry against their will, although - as the minister also recalled - this is forbidden according to Afghan and Islamic law. Many women commit suicide in order to avoid forced marriage. In marriage, in the family, women must simply obey.

    "Their situation is getting worse in every way. For example, according to a recent survey by UNICEF, in Kabul alone there are 4,000 children living in the street and begging, and many of them are girls. There are 60,000 adult beggars, and many are women. That's according to official data, but it is thought that the numbers are much higher. Many women beg because they are widows, and no one takes care of them, no one supports them. It was not this way during the 1970's, the 1980's, or the 1990's, until the coming of the Taliban. At that time in Kabul there were few beggars, usually elderly men who had ended up alone."

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    See also

    13/11/2008 AFGHANISTAN
    Acid thrown in faces of five young women in Kandahar, "guilty" of going to school
    Responsibility for the crime is attributed to the Taliban, who have an extensive presence in the area. During their government, they imposed an absolute ban on any form of education for females.

    09/03/2009 AFGHANISTAN
    Dialogue with Taliban endangers women's rights
    The condition of women will be the testing ground for any dialogue with the Taliban. AsiaNews has gathered comments in the country on the U.S. president's idea of seeking dialogue with Taliban moderates. There is widespread fear of "going backward." The importance of Iran.

    14/01/2011 AFGHANISTAN
    Taliban no longer opposed to female education
    Afghan education minister makes the announcement in London. Sources tell AsiaNews that a cultural change is underway in the country. However, low teacher salaries and the distribution of international aid in education are major problems.

    21/10/2008 KUWAIT
    Two female Kuwaiti ministers risk "dismissal" for not wearing the veil
    A parliamentary committee has decided that their attire, without the hijab, violates the constitution and the electoral law. The matter will now be submitted to a vote in parliament.

    21/04/2009 PAKISTAN
    Archbishop of Lahore: Sharia in the Swat Valley is contrary to Pakistan's founding principles
    Archbishop Saldanha denounces the violation of minority and women's rights. The archbishop expresses his concern "in matters concerning criminal justice," and denounces abuses and violence by the Taliban toward Christian, Sikh, and Hindu places of worship and schools. The Catholic Church supports the Muttahida Quami Movement, the only party that has opposed the "forces of darkness."



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