Afghan School Girls Poisoned by Militants

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:25 PM EDT, 26 April 2010

Afghan School GirlsKUNDUZ PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Afghan women have been subjected to increasing levels of violence since 2002. The war-torn region is subject not only to external forces as America and its allies attempt to fortify the borders against Taliban insurgents, but to the internal pressures of a populace held hostage by a small group of extremist who use violence and death to enforce their version of Islam.

Today's incident in which 13 school girls became sick after inhaling a poisonous gas which leaked into their school is the latest in an effort by militant groups to dissuade girls and women from pursuing education. Afghan has a dismal 13% literacy rate among women, and many of the girls schools have been burned down or shuttered.

In 2006 when the Taliban began to enforce its version of Sharia law, 198 girls schools were burned down and 20 teachers were killed in Taliban attacks that year according to Zuhur Afghan, a spokesman for the education ministry.

The government has accused fighters opposed to female education of being behind the attack.The Sunday, 25 April incident which is the third in Kunduz province brings to 80 the number of school girls reporting symptoms such as headaches, vomiting and shivering after suspected poisoning.

In April of this year 47 girls from a different school had reported feeling dizzy and nauseous, while 23 girls said they felt unwell under similar circumstances.  On June 9, 2010, CNN Wire Staff reported the latest attack in which 16 school girls were sickened by the poisonous gas.