ArticleDownload Worksheet April 30th, 2012
Attack on Girls School Marks Pivotal Moment for Women in Afghanistan
More than 170 girls and women became ill at a school in northern Afghanistan after opponents to women’s education allegedly poisoned the school’s water supply, according to local health officials. The incident highlights the dangers women face in the country after American and NATO forces leave.
The Afghan girls and women between the ages of 14 and 30 were hospitalized after losing consciousness, becoming dizzy, and vomiting. No deaths were reported.
“Looking at the health condition of these girls, I can definitely say that their water was contaminated by some sort of poison,” said Dr. Hafizullah Safi, the provincial health department director, according to CNN. The police questioned the school employees in the small northern town of Rostaq and blamed the act on extremists.
“It is the work of those who are against girls’ education and peace and stability in Afghanistan,” district administrator Moelam Hussain said.
Attacks on women in Afghanistan are not new
This was not the first time a girls school was targeted. Last year, hundreds of schoolgirls were hospitalized after falling ill from suspected gas or water poisoning. At the time, local officials also blamed religious extremists for the outbreak.
The attacks illustrate the precarious position of women, who have made great strides since the American-led invasion in 2001, but are now nervous about their future after the U.S. and its allies pull most of their troops from the country by the 2014 deadline.
Before the American and allied forces ousted the Islamic fundamentalist government of the Taliban, women were whipped on the streets by religious police if they did not wear a white or blue veil to cover their bodies and those accused of cheating on their husbands were stoned to death at sports stadiums.
Reconstruction efforts supported women, but discrimination persists
Many of the American-led reconstruction efforts were aimed at ensuring that women could play a greater role in public life by getting an education, access to health care, the right to vote and other basic human rights.
Today, more than 3 million Afghan women attend schools and universities in their country and 27 percent of the seats in parliament are reserved for females.
But even though they are no longer banned from the classroom, Afghan girls and women still face discrimination in some places. According to international aid group Oxfam, more than 85 percent of Afghan women said to have suffered from physical, sexual or psychological abuse or been forced into an arranged marriage. Female politicians and social workers face routine threats and intimidation from the Taliban.
Will President Karzai protect women from the Taliban?
Although President Hamid Karzai has formally outlawed violence and discrimination against women, there is fear he will sacrifice progress to secure a political deal with the Taliban.
Last month President Karzai’s website published a recommendation by a government-appointed council of 150 leading Muslim clerics that denied women a role in public life.
“Men are fundamental and women are secondary,” the council said in a statement, adding that women “should avoid mingling with strange men in various social activities such as education, in bazaars, in offices and other aspects of life.”
The council also endorsed the Islamic law that requires women to cover their entire bodies by wearing the full hijab and the Islamic practice of polygamy, where a man can take up to four wives.
Many Afghan women and members of the international community are concerned that President Karzai’s attempts to make peace with the Taliban will eat away at women’s rights.
“Once they get power and they are assured that they will stay in power then they will introduce their own values and there won’t be any space for women,” Massouda Jalal, a former Afghan female presidential candidate, told BBC News.
–Compiled by Maria Conde for NewsHour Extra
Submit Your Student Voice
Tooltip of RSS content 3
Lesson plan: What 2017 news stories mattered most to your students?
For a fun end-of-year activity, students will create an online magazine of their top 10 news stories from 2017 to share with classmates and family members. Continue reading2017current eventsdigital literacyELAenglishEnglish & Language ArtsEnglish language learnersFlipboardGovernment & Civicslesson planmagazinemathematicsMedia Literacynew yearNew Year'snew year's resolutionnews storiesphysical educationSocial Issuessocial mediaSocial StudiesSTEM
National monuments: Whose job is it to protect public lands?
Whose land grab is it? And whose job is it to protect public lands? Explore President Trump’s decision to dramatically cut back the size of two national monuments in Utah last week with your students. Continue readingBears Ears National MonumentDepartment of the InteriorDonald TrumpenvironmentGovernment & CivicsGrand Staircase-Escalante National MonumentIndiansindigenous peoplenational monumentsnational parksNative American rightsNavajo NationPatagoniaRyan ZinkeScienceSTEMUtah
Alabama Senate race: Why special elections matter
On Tuesday, Alabama voters headed to the polls in a special election for U.S. Senate between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. Poll results have been mixed, some putting Moore and others putting Jones ahead. Continue readingAlabama special electionDonald TrumpElectionsGovernment & CivicsMedia LiteracyRoy Mooresexual assaultsexual harassmentSocial IssuesSocial Studiesspecial election
Study guide: Impact of Southern California wildfires
Use this NewsHour lesson plan to discuss the significance of the Southern California wildfires with your students. Continue readingancient romeCalifornia wildfiresEconomicsenvironmental scienceevacuationsfire crewsfirefightershistoryincome inequalitylesson planlos angelesMedia LiteracySan DiegoSanta BarbaraSocial IssuesSocial StudiesSouthern CaliforniaVentura County
Here’s why geography class matters: Trump’s Jerusalem announcement
The world of foreign policy is not above students’ heads. Use this NewsHour lesson plan to learn about the U.S. official decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Continue readingBenjamin NetanyahudiplomacyDonald TrumpForeign PolicyGeographyglobal issuesIsraelIsraeliIsraelisJerusalemland rightsMahmoud AbbasMedia LiteracyMiddle EastPalestinepalestinianspeacePLOSocial IssuesSocial StudiesU.S. embassyWorld & Geography