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Taliban Attacks on Afghan Girls' Schools Increase

Taliban militia bombings, burnings of girls' schools, and the killing of teachers are increasing at an alarming rate as the Taliban resurgence continues to gain strength. Ahmed Rashid, a well known author and expert on the Taliban recently wrote in the Washington Post that "...every single day somewhere in Afghanistan a girls' school is burned down or a female teacher killed by the Taliban." Under the Taliban regime, education for Afghan women and girls was banned. Attacks on girls' schools began immediately following the reopening of the schools by the new Afghan government in 2002, but the current situation has reached crisis proportions undermining the rights that Afghan women and girls were just beginning to enjoy.

Many children, especially girls are kept home out of fear. Lack of resources has also been a major problem in rebuilding the education system which was completely destroyed after decades of war. In Lessons in Terror: Attacks on Education in Afghanistan, a report just released by Human Rights Watch (HRW), it states that there are some areas where the majority of primary-school-age girls do not attend school at all and only five percent of girls compared to 20 percent of boys attend secondary schools. Human Rights Watch (HRW), has called for the international community and the Afghan government to create a concrete strategy for addressing the security problems.

The United Nations (UN) has also repeatedly condemned the attacks. The World Food Program, which provides programs to school children, recently issued a report raising concerns about the increases in threats and attacks on girls' schools. Munoz Villalobs, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education said in a recent statement "I am deeply concerned that schools, especially girls' schools seem to be systematically targeted by terrorist groups with the apparent objective of forcing parents to refrain from sending their children to school and thus forcing the authorities to close the schools."

The Feminist Majority has waged a campaign urging the U.S. to increase security in Afghanistan, to protect the rights of women and girls and to increase funding for organizations working to advance women's rights in Afghanistan and Afghan women-led non-profits. Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation/Feminist Majority, which has waged a campaign urging the U.S. to increase peacekeeping troops throughout Afghanistan said, "As the bombings and burning of girls' schools continue unabated and the situation for women and girls continues to deteriorate, the Bush Administration remains silent."

TAKE ACTION Urge your senators and representatives to co-sponsor "The Afghan Women's Empowerment Act of 2006"

Media Resources: Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/10/06; Human Rights Watch Report 7/10/06; Washington Post 7/3/06

© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

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