Afghan Schoolgirls Poisoned and It's All Our Fault

Kim Conte
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hospitalFifty-nine students and 14 teachers at a Kabul girls high school were hospitalized today after being attacked by poison gas. Both girls and teachers are recovering, but this is the ninth case involving the poisoning of schoolgirls, according to an Afghan education official.

Would now be an appropriate time to debate America's responsibility in Afghanistan?

Earlier this summer we were reminded of just how bad things currently are for women in Afghanistan when the controversial image of an 18-year-old Afghan woman -- whose husband cut off her nose -- appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. Afghan women's advocates say that should the Taliban return to power if and when Obama withdraws American troops as early as next year, the situation will likely go from bad to worse.

Many young women weren't permitted to attend school when the Taliban was in power from 1996 to 2001. Girls' schools reopened after the regime was overthrown; recently, however, they've come under attack again as Taliban insurgency groups gain ground throughout Afghanistan. In fact, the humanitarian agency CARE documented 670 education-related attacks in 2008 -- much of it occurring at girls' schools.

It's any wonder that despite vicious attacks and terrifying violence, Afghan girls still continue to go to school.

There's substantial evidence showing that educating girls and women is critical to economic growth for developing nations. Radical groups like the Taliban -- which attempt to keep half the population ignorant in order to maintain power -- do so at the detriment of their country's economic progress and prosperity.

Surely, the image of schoolgirls attacked simply for trying to get an education weighs heavily on America's conscience particularly now that the Afghan war -- and the American troop withdrawal -- is so front and center in the media.

Are we abandoning these women if we leave Afghanistan? Or are the continued US casualties or expenditures of resources of the war simply not worth it?

 

Image via norfolkdistrict/Flickr

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