Oct 302007

Who knows how many glossy photos the Bush brigade has sent out showing smiling girls in Afghanistan and Iraq going to school, all thanks to our heroic efforts to bring ‘democracy’ to their countries.  Too bad reality says that oops no, it is actually getting harder for girls to go to school.

In the Shindand district of the province of Herat in Afghanistan, 1500 girls have stayed home after their school was attacked with grenades by unknown assailants on Oct. 19. According to IRIN,

“Since 8 October, four attacks on schools have been reported in the restive district, none of which harmed students or school staffers, according to Haji Shah Alaam, Shindand district governor.

Two of the schools belonged to girls, Alaam said.”

The report says that while many more students have been brought into the education system since the fall of the Taliban, only 35% of them are girls.  In rural areas, the discrepency is far greater,

“Almost all the rural students coming to schools in Lashkargah are boys, local officials say. Students who commute daily between the provincial capital and their homes in rural districts are also exposed to the risk of being targeted by elements that oppose education.”

Meanwhile in Iraq… the ratio of girls to boys used to be 2:3, now it is 1:4,

“Education specialists in Iraq are worried about the low school attendance of girls as it could create a huge educational gap.

“The fear of losing their children through violence has led many families to keep their children at home but the number of girls kept at home is higher because in addition to the security problem, they are being forced by their families to assist in household chores,? said Sinan Zuhair, a media officer for the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

“Many families have lost their fathers or mothers and girls are asked to stay at home to help to cook, wash and clean. They are the ones paying the price of the violence since they have to forget about their future to be able to help the lives of their brothers,? Zuhair told IRIN. “The problem is worse in the rural areas where religion is being used by fathers as an excuse to justify why their daughters no longer attend school.?”

The problem is getting worse and will have long term implications for the girls who are no longer able to attend school, but as one mother said,

““This year I was forced to take my two daughters out of school. The main reason is violence. I cannot have one of them killed or raped as has happened with many of their colleagues,? said Um Nour Zeid, a mother of four and a resident of Baghdad.”

In a word, democracy not.

 October 30, 2007  Posted by on October 30, 2007

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