Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Afghani acid attack victims go back to school

This is really incredible. The New York Times reported today that despite numerous acid attacks on students and teachers at the Mirwais School for Girls in Afghanistan, Mirwais students are back in the classroom and learning (and like us, this week they're taking exams). It's really incredible how far these girls and their parents are willing to go to ensure their education:

Today, nearly all of the wounded girls are back at the Mirwais School for Girls, including even Shamsia, whose face was so badly burned that she had to be sent abroad for treatment. Perhaps even more remarkable, nearly every other female student in this deeply conservative community has returned as well — about 1,300 in all.

“My parents told me to keep coming to school even if I am killed,” said Shamsia, 17, in a moment after class. Shamsia’s mother, like nearly all of the adult women in the area, is unable to read or write. “The people who did this to me don’t want women to be educated. They want us to be stupid things.”

In the five years since the Mirwais School for Girls was built here by the Japanese government, it appears to have set off something of a social revolution. Even as the Taliban tighten their noose around Kandahar, the girls flock to the school each morning. Many of them walk more than two miles from their mud-brick houses up in the hills.

Quite apart from the fact that it's a basic human right, education for girls can have a serious impact on local economies, and can bring about the kind of social change that's so clearly needed in the kind of societies where girls expect to be killed for trying to learn how to read. Read more about what's called the Girl Effect here.

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