Twice within the span of about a week, schoolgirls in Afghanistan have been the victim of suspected poisonings. The most recent incident occurred on Tuesday at the Aahan Dara Girls School in Taluqan. A hospital in the Takhar province in northern Afghanistan reported admitting 160 schoolgirls after the poisoning. Police spokesman Khalilullah Aseer blames the Taliban for the attacks.
The girls complained of headaches, dizziness, and vomiting, according to Director of the Provincial Health Department Hafizullah Safi. Over half were discharged within a few hours of treatment. A similar incident occurred last week, resulting in over 120 girls and three teachers being taken to a hospital.
Earlier in the week, the Taliban denied responsibility for the attack and blamed the U.S. and NATO forces. However, the Taliban has long had a history of denying education to women and girls. From the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in 1996 until the overthrow of the regime in 2001, women were denied basic rights such as healthcare and education.
Although they do not have control of the central Afghan government, the Taliban have been waging a fierce battle to control rural schools. According to CNN, the Taliban has been demanding the closure of some rural schools and changing the curriculum in others.
Barakat’s schools in Afghanistan are helping to reverse the trend of not educating females that still persists in Afghanistan. Local schools encourage families to send their girls to school. Literacy courses for older women allow those who have either never been educated or whose education was interrupted—often by the Taliban—to have opportunities they otherwise would not have.
Girls’ education in Afghanistan has and will continue to face many barriers. But through programs like Barakat, female education is making tremendous progress.