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Eighty Afghan Schoolgirls Poisoned — Taliban Suspected

In education, women, world on April 26, 2010 at 9:32 pm
Emblem of Afghanistan

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Nice.

It’s hard to imagine behavior so misogynist and vicious, but last year several girls in Kandahar had acid thrown in their faces for daring to…attend school.

In the past three weeks, in its ongoing efforts to deter young women from getting an education, the Taliban have allegedly poisoned more than 80 schoolchildren with noxious gas, sending them to the hospital, reports msnbc:.

The Taliban and other conservative extremist groups in Afghanistan who oppose female education have been known to target schoolgirls. Girls were not allowed to attend school when the Taliban controlled most of Afghanistan until they were ousted in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

Last year, dozens of schoolgirls were hospitalized in Kapisa province, just northeast of Kabul, after collapsing with headaches and nausea. An unusual smell filled the schoolyard before the students fell ill…

Teachers stricken as well
Anesa, a 9-year-old girl who was among those hospitalized Sunday, said she noticed a strange odor and then saw two of her teachers fall unconscious.

“I came out from the main hall, and I saw lots of other girls scattered everywhere. They were not feeling good,” said Anesa, who gave only her first name. “Then suddenly I felt that I was losing my balance and falling.”

Azizullah Safar, head of the Kunduz hospital, said many of the girls were still suffering from pain, dizziness and vomiting.

“I was in class when a smell like a flower reached my nose,” said Sumaila, 12, one of the girls hospitalized. “I saw my classmates and my teacher collapse and when I opened my eyes I was in hospital.”

Reports The Independent:

But the militants denied responsibility. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: “We strongly condemn such an act that targeted innocent schoolgirls by poisonous gas.”Some rights advocates suspect that opposition to female education is no longer the exclusive preserve of the Taliban. Instead, they claim that Islamists unaligned with the insurgency may sometimes be responsible.

A million girls attend school in Afghanistan – an unprecedented number but a sixth of the number of boys.

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