Sadly, the burning of schools and death threats seem not to be enough for insurgents and rebel groups in Afghanistan. The newest tactic in keeping girls away from school? Poison. Throughout these past couple of weeks, over 100 schoolgirls fell ill, after collapsing in school due to a poisonous gas. The students complained of nausea, vomiting, and fainting. One girl described the incident like this: “I wanted to scream so hard and I felt like someone was choking me, moments after I smelt the gas.” Three of the poisonings took place in the Afghan province of Kunduz, and one this past week, in Kabul. The substance used in all four cases appears to be the same. Almost a year ago, a similar incident occurred in Kapisa province. The Taliban have denied responsibility. The Taliban and government alike have blamed the attacks on anti-government groups, determined to undermine stability in the country.
The amazing thing about this is not that the insurgents are still trying to deter girls from being educated. That is what being radical is all about: not giving up. The amazing thing is that they haven’t been as successful as one might think. Throughout the Taliban rule women in Afghanistan kept their hope and determination for a better future. Now, despite attempt after attempt to keep girls at home, they continue to pursue an education. One of the girls who was poisoned this past week in Kabul said she wanted to keep going to school, with her family’s permission. That’s the kind of determination that’s commendable, and even heroic. Yet, it’s not uncommon. Everyday girls go to school facing the threat of an attack, but they are still enthusiastic about learning.