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Saturday: A little thing for the girls

Braving acid to study algebra

Braving acid to study algebra

Late last year, a group of Afghani girls were attacked on their way to school. At least one was so badly burned she had to be flown to India for treatment. The attackers were arrested and are in jail. You’d think that would be the end of it but the acid throwers and their supporters are still sending threats to the students from their jail cells promising to exact vengeance if any of the arrested are punished.

The principal of the school, Qaderi, has been partially successful in getting the 1500 female students to return to class by promising them transportation and security. So far, the students have returned but the buses and protection haven’t materialized and Qaderi is getting worried.

The Bushies made Afghanistan promises they did not intend to keep. Like many other projects the Bushies took up, they did a half assed job and left the locals fend for themselves. The world is full of hurts and injustices and the United States is just now starting to feel what that is going to be like with the deepening recession. But we are incredibly lucky that if an American girl wants to attend school. even if that school eventually ignores her and gives her a substandard education compared to boys, she has the means to get to its stingy-assed doors in one piece.

Sexism costs. In Afghanistan, it has been very costly as the years of the Taliban has reduced half of the population to a state of illiteracy. If we ever hope to have a stable, prosperous Afghanistan, where reason and education trump superstition and anachronistic tradition, it will require a literate population and the education of girls is critical to this goal.

I’m sure that Hillary and Richard Holbrooke know this. They undoubtably have a lot on their plates right now and in the whole scheme of things, the fate of 1500 girls may be overlooked. But it is the small bonds we form that make all the difference, like mending the tears in a complicated lace. It may take awhile to see that the fragments, when joined together, make a cohesive pattern. We have to start somewhere. Let’s start with some girls.  Their determination to get an education in spite of Taliban threat is an act of defiance and resistance.  If Afghanistan is to be successful at repelling the advances of the Taliban it will be because these girls had the courage to not back down and, as a result, their commuinity had the courage to not cooperate with the Taliban in dragging the country backwards once again.

Here’s a bit of history for those of you who remember the 80’s National Georgraphic cover picture of the beautiful Afghan girl.  The magazine went in search of her shortly after we invaded Afghanistan.  What happened to this promising Pashtun girl who was a learning her letters in a  refugee camp in Pakistan?  This is her story.

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39 Responses

  1. I kept that NG – the picture is haunting, the young girl is gorgeous.

    RAWA is another organization worth looking into:

    http://www.rawa.org/index.php

  2. I have always wondered, did the photographer asked permission to take her picture? Did she agree to have her picture broadcast around the world? Did National Geographic, like many other elites, just treat the poor as common property and people devoid of rights and feelings?

    At one point, I think the photographer said that she was furious with him for taking the picture.

    It’s not a co-incidence that journalists treat rich and influential people with such deference. Tim Russert said that as a rule, he treats any conversation with adminsitration officials off-the-record, and asks permission to use it.

    The woman and her family seem very generous. I get annoyed by the National Geographic people who pretend they are doing this for ‘the greater good’.

    Sorry, end of my cynical rant.

  3. On a bright note, though, it’s nice to hear that she is happy, and the men around her, like her brother and her husband, seem to be good and open. But then, I (or we) don’t really know much about inside Afghanistan. What percentage of population sympathises with the acid throwing thugs?

  4. ghost2: You should follow the link at the bottom of the post. The photographer *did* ask Sharbat Gula if he could take that famous picture and she agreed. Yes, she was angry at the time. Earlier in the day, she had caught her red cloak in a cooking fire and burned it badly. It was the only one she had. I think that, plus the fact that her parents were killed in a bombing raid and she and her brother and aunt or grandmother had to walk over the mountains to Peshawar kind of pissed her off. I have no doubt that she was relieved to be in a relatively safe refugee camp though. The end of the story is that she was eventually happy that NG had tracked her down, got medical treatment for her husband and her kids and was calling attention to the plight of Afghan refugees.
    So, I guess the moral of the story is that we should *not* presume to know what is in the minds of those we photograph and maybe it is worth the extra effort to try to overcome cultural barriers in order to help people help themselves. It appears that it is possible to do so if you let them lead.

  5. ghost2: If you click on the picture, you will find that the place where the incident happened, called Mirwais, is a relatively conservative place. However, the girls and young women are crawling out of the woodwork to go to this school *with their families’ encouragement*. The trouble started because the Taliban are coming back. They have started to infiltrate the area and one of the first things they did before a military onslaught was to post signs throughout the area telling people to not let their girls go to school. People are sending them anyway. But the acid throwers have them worried about the girls’ safety. Now is the time to do something about it. They need security and transportation until the taliban problem is dealt with. In fact, if the taliban are ever to be vanquished, it may be the courage of these girls that do it. If they have the means to not back down, the taliban may not be able to intimidate the rest of the population either. The taliban were successful because the population cooperated with them. What if they don’t cooperate this time?

  6. About a month ago, Dan Rather was interviewed after returning from Afghanistan. His “take away” was that if we had any chance of success, we must focus on the women through protection, safety and education. Starting with 1,500 girls being safe going to school is a good place to start. America’s own awakening started in 1957 with nine children in Little Rock…

  7. Thank you for posting this, RD. It just breaks my heart. Please, I encourage you to post stories like these when you become aware of them, so that we will hear of them, too, and not forget the plight of girls like these in other parts of the world.

  8. “Let’s start with some girls.”

    Brilliant, RD.

  9. RD,

    What can we do to make it happen? Isn’t this something Hillary could have an effect on? I’m going to check the SOS web page.

  10. Here is the contact page for the State Dept.

    http://contact-us.state.gov/cgi-bin/state.cfg/php/enduser/std_alp.php

  11. SOS Office of International women’s issues

    http://www.state.gov/g/wi/

  12. Good morning, BB. Thanks for the links. It looks like contributions are the way to help: http://usawc.state.gov/c7548.htm

  13. RAWA IS a GREAT organisation !! I am extremely proud to carry my canvas tote bag from them 🙂 … one thing about RAWA you can count on them for accurate news relating to the war, and women , and practically anything because they are not filtered by any outside news media organisation …
    Where is mo on this critical womens and daughters front ??? the First “mom” ?? well besides wearing ugly dresses … she is protesting realy cute and adorable dolls that look like her daughters … that I think are not inappropriate at all but endearing … IMNSHO 😉

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/President44/story?id=6716085&page=1
    Gee she didnt protest t shirts that said bros not hos
    She didnt protest the Hillary nutcracker doll
    , and I guess she cannot be bothered to worry about any one elses daughters in Afghanistan , or anywhere else .

    Goddess Radio ( music from the Women and Daughters of Independent Artists ) starts at 10 am EST til 1 Pm and then is
    followed by Sister Moon Rock and Love aradio at I pm click here to listen or copy paste this link into your player where it says play URL

    http://audio.cygnusradio.com:8000/cyg1_hi.m3u

    Eva Cassidy set starts at 10 Am and I have two new Goddesses to share with you today !!!

    PS I apologise for not being here most of the week ; I have been working, coming home, and falling out on the couch from exhaustion ; but I have been reading everyithing I can , and what a haven for me just to read you all !!
    So much love from me to you, words cannot express my gratitude for your continued presence ♥

  14. I signed up for e-mail updates, but I can’t find any place where you can send suggestions or requests.

  15. Thank you so much for bringing this story to us RD. I remember that picture and it’s nice to know that she has survived. Nice to know that while her life may be difficult she and her family are now getting some help. All because of a little girl getting her picture taken so many years ago.

    Yes “let’s start with some girls”. And let’s keep at it until all little girls, all over the world, have the same chances as all little boys.

  16. Good day RD.

    Yes education of women is the point zero of all progress in a society. Let’s hope Hillary won’t have so much on her plate with the Big Boys antics that she still will have time for women advancement in less privilegded countries.

  17. All I can muster at this point is to be thankful we are not forced to live under these horrific conditions. The Taliban should be obliterated from the face of the earth and I seriously do not care how that is achieved.

  18. (waving) Riverdaughter once again I’m stunned at your ability to write interesting posts on serious topics so early in the morning. You’d think I’d be used to it (since I also expect it) but no — every morning I think: THIS one is really good.

    Have you read the book Three Cups of Tea? I believe it is about educating girls in Afghanistan. Maybe it could be one of our Book Club selections?

  19. RD YOU so rock !!!
    RAWA is a stellar organisation !!! One thing you can count on from them is accurate reporting because they are not filtered by any outside news media you get the truth from the women themselves .. I am extremely proud to carry my RAWA tote bag .

    And where is out “first mom ” ??why besides wearing ugly dresses on a daily basis she is protesting adorable dolls that are named after her daughters which IMNSHO are endearing . Gee… she didnt protest the bros not hos tshirts; or the Hillary nutcracker doll; or the myriad disparaging and derogatory things targeted at the women of the opposition by her husbands campaign …but this she has a problem with ??

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/President44/story?id=6716085&page=1

    in the meantime
    soothe your political souls and support the women of independent music with
    Goddess Radio 10AM – 1 PM EST followed by SisterMoon Rock and Love Radio at 1 pm EST
    Eva cassidy Set starts promptly at 10 and I have two new Goddesses to share to day !!

    click here to listen

    http://audio.cygnusradio.com:8000/cyg1_hi.m3u
    or copy paste that link into yuor player where it says play URL or find

    CYGNUS RADIO on itunes under eclectic or rock

    Ps I apologise for being so scarce this week ; I have been coming home from work and falling out on the couch from exhaustion , I think being outside in the cold weather is making me more tired ..but I have been reading as much as I can and loving everything I read , what a haven to have I am so grateful and appreciative for your continued presence

  20. RD YOU so rock !!!
    RAWA is a stellar organisation !!! One thing you can count on from them is accurate reporting because they are not filtered by any outside news media you get the truth from the women themselves .. I am extremely proud to carry my RAWA tote bag .

    And where is out “first mom ” ??why besides wearing ugly dresses on a daily basis she is protesting adorable dolls that are named after her daughters which IMNSHO are endearing . Gee… she didnt protest the bros not hos tshirts; or the Hillary nutcracker doll; or the myriad disparaging and derogatory things targeted at the women of the opposition by her husbands campaign …but this she has a problem with ??

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/President44/story?id=6716085&page=1

    in the meantime
    soothe your political souls and support the women of independent music with
    Goddess Radio 10AM – 1 PM EST followed by SisterMoon Rock and Love Radio at 1 pm EST
    Eva cassidy Set starts promptly at 10 and I have two new Goddesses to share to day !!

    click here to listen

    http://audio.cygnusradio.com:8000/cyg1_hi.m3u
    or copy paste that link into your player where it says play URL or find

    CYGNUS RADIO on itunes under eclectic or rock

    Ps I apologise for being so scarce this week ; I have been coming home from work and falling out on the couch from exhaustion , I think being outside in the cold weather is making me more tired ..but I have been reading as much as I can and loving everything I read , what a haven to have I am so grateful and appreciative for your continued presence

  21. RD YOU so rock !!!
    RAWA is a stellar organisation !!! One thing you can count on from them is accurate reporting because they are not filtered by any outside news media you get the truth from the women themselves .. I am extremely proud to carry my RAWA tote bag .

    And where is out “first mom ” ??why besides wearing ugly dresses on a daily basis she is protesting adorable dolls that are named after her daughters which IMNSHO are endearing . Gee… she didnt protest the bros not hos tshirts; or the Hillary nutcracker doll; or the myriad disparaging and derogatory things targeted at the women of the opposition by her husbands campaign …but she has a problem with little adorable dolls ??

    in the meantime
    soothe your political souls and support the women of independent music with
    Goddess Radio 10AM – 1 PM EST followed by SisterMoon Rock and Love Radio at 1 pm EST
    Eva cassidy Set starts promptly at 10 and I have two new Goddesses to share to day !!

    click here to listen

    http://audio.cygnusradio.com:8000/cyg1_hi.m3u

    or copy paste that link into yuor player where it says play URL or find

    CYGNUS RADIO on itunes under eclectic or rock

    Ps I apologise for being so scarce this week ; I have been coming home from work and falling out on the couch from exhaustion , I think being outside in the cold weather is making me more tired ..but I have been reading as much as I can and loving everything I read , what a haven to have I am so grateful and appreciative for your continued presence

  22. my posts just disappear into the etyher 😦

  23. RD YOU so rock !!!
    RAWA is a stellar organisation !!! One thing you can count on from them is accurate reporting because they are not filtered by any outside news media you get the truth from the women themselves .. I am extremely proud to carry my RAWA tote bag .

    And where is out “first mom ” ??why besides wearing ugly dresses on a daily basis she is protesting adorable dolls that are named after her daughters which IMNSHO are endearing . Gee… she didnt protest the bros not hos tshirts; or the Hillary nutcracker doll; or the myriad disparaging and derogatory things targeted at the women of the opposition by her husbands campaign …but this she has a problem with ??

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/President44/story?id=6716085&page=1

    in the meantime
    soothe your political souls and support the women of independent music with
    Goddess Radio 10AM – 1 PM EST followed by SisterMoon Rock and Love Radio at 1 pm EST
    Eva cassidy Set starts promptly at 10 and I have two new Goddesses to share to day !!

    click on my name to listen
    or find

    CYGNUS RADIO on itunes under eclectic or rock

    Ps I apologise for being so scarce this week ; I have been coming home from work and falling out on the couch from exhaustion , I think being outside in the cold weather is making me more tired ..but I have been reading as much as I can and loving everything I read , what a haven to have I am so grateful and appreciative for your continued presence

  24. Goddess Radio 10AM – 1 PM EST followed by SisterMoon Rock and Love Radio at 1 pm EST

    here is the listen link

    click here to listen

    http://audio.cygnusradio.com:8000/cyg1_hi.m3u

    or copy paste that link into your player where it says play URL

  25. Kbird: Thanks for reminding me of the book club. I like your suggestion. Wouldn’t that be typical of a librarian to know where all the good books are? Maybe you’d like to take over the book club?

  26. Sure — Do we want to put it to a vote? Or should I just write something up?

  27. I’m in for the Book Club selection if that counts.

  28. Kbird: go Nike. Just do it!. It’s a great suggestion that doesn’t need a vote.
    😉

  29. I just placed an order online for the book. Whether or not it becomes the Book Club choice it looks interesting.

  30. !! — I’m on it now.

  31. I just asked myself could I get any lazier than just clicking and ordering from online sites? Are there hazards involved from being this indolent? God, I am becoming more and more useless as time goes by!

  32. I posted a teaser to the sidebar. I’ll make an announcement post a little later with some actual information. 🙂

    I’ve been looking for an excuse to read 3 Cups of Tea!

  33. it’s not only the Bushies who made unfulfilled promises to the people of Afghanistan. Back in the 70s when Afghanistan was a fledging democracy, the CIA managed to screw it up for them, imported the mujahedeens and usedthe country to attack the USSR without caring about the fate of its people. The Taliban were a result of that policy.

  34. I am against the death penalty but would make an exception for any member of the Taliban for what they do to women and girls.

    Better yet, I would love to see his squads make up of women, taking these guys out one by one.

  35. soopermouse,

    that is no excuse for the behavior of these despicable men now.

  36. I WASN’T making an excuse
    on the contrary. Just putting it into context, that I think the USA owes these people a lot more than it is realized

  37. If this were the past of the Trek universe, it would be karmic justice if the acid throwers were reincarnated as the miners whom the Horta killed.

    http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Horta

    Why yes, I am a nerd. Why do you ask? :mrgreen:

  38. RD,

    Thanks for the reply. I guess my comment was a tad too harsh. Yes, she got medical help and got treated with some respect.

    I think I was more reacting more to general attitudes, than this story in particular. Thanks for posting.

    Your blog rocks. Keep up the variety too. It’s good.

  39. […] our inspiration from Riverdaughter’s post Saturday morning (Saturday: A little thing for the girls), the next selection for The Confluence Book Club (the week of February 23-28th) is Three Cups of […]

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