Blinded for going to school

Attackers in Afghanistan shoot acid in schoolgirls' faces.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

Published November 12, 2008 9:40PM (EST)

If you aren't wearing your emotional armor, this news could very well send you crying into your keyboard: Two men used water guns to shoot acid in the faces of at least 15 girls Wednesday morning near a school in Kandahar, Afghanistan, according to the BBC. The Islamic veils and burqas the girls wore didn't provide much protection: Two were blinded. The location of the attack, Mirwais Nika Girls High School, was no accident: The attackers are believed to be Taliban militants opposed to girls' education.

This is only the latest in a series of brutal attacks in the battle against education in Afghanistan. As Glamour reported in April, "In the past two years, 231 of the country's students and teachers have been killed; 240 schools have been destroyed; and 590 schools have closed due to the threat of violence, leaving more than 200,000 students with nowhere to go." Girls, who were banned from school under the Taliban's rule, are a preferred target: They have been disfigured, blinded, poisoned and killed for going to school.

As a result, the choice of whether to allow a daughter to get an education can feel like a decision between literacy and life. Unsurprisingly, only 5 percent of eligible girls are enrolled in high school, and nearly 90 percent of Afghan women are illiterate. One of the latest victims, 16-year-old Atifa, told the BBC: "I want to ask the government why they cannot protect us; we girls want to study but the government is not helping us." She continued, "Kandahar is not safe. But we can't stay at home, we want an education."

Tracy Clark-Flory

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