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Acid Throwing attacks, an attempt to stop girl's education, or an initiation to encourage girls for education?

Hi everyone,
I have finally managed to finish the second assignment. I have quiet got to know many new things and learned a lot, but as same as others, I am also concerned about it still. As it is my first draft, so I thought to post it here in order to get your highly valued comments. I really appreciate any comment you might give for my assignment.
Best of luck for you all,
Mursal

In a distance of only one km from my home to school in Kabul, it was sometimes as hard for me as if instead of going to school, I was walking on a ground full of thorns. However, fortunate as it was, I’ve finally managed to finish my school. But what about the majority of girls in Afghanistan, who have been suffering from the time they got to know that they are a Girl till the time when they got into the occasion of knowing what it means to be a Girl and what are the rules, regulations, policies, challenges, problems, issues and stereotypes about being a Girl in Afghanistan.

After several time reading the same news of acid attack in an imagery type in several different newspapers, and websites, I was clueless of how to put down the same gloomy story of Shamsia and her 14 other acid attack victim fellows in my article.

Shamsia, 17, was on her way to school with her sister, Atifa, 16, and 13 other students, when they were sprayed acid on their faces by some unknown, covered men, who firstly asked them the “ordinary question” of “Are you going to school?” near to Mirwais School for Girls in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Mirwais School which is one of the only girl’s schools in Kandahar remained closed for around one week after this attack. However, after the hard work and extreme efforts of Mr. Qaderi, the school’s headmaster, who have tried to arrange meetings with the parents of students, the school finally started again and gradually students also started to continue to their fearful, but hopeful journey towards the path of knowledge and wisdom.

"I don't know why they did it," she Atifa. "Kandahar is not safe. But we can't stay at home, we want an education."
Despite knowing the fact that it is really unsafe and troubling for girls to educate in a place where there are thousands of matters that can stop girls from getting educated and raising their voices, girls still strive and struggle for education. This is one of the bravest, and triumph stories of these brave girls who in spite of getting into that much trouble which could even result in the cost of their lives are still continuing to get education and reconstruct their countries.

In fact, some time right after the fall of Taliban in 2001, the majority of Afghan parents and families still did not allow their daughters to get educated or to go to school due to the “brainwash” type of effort that was done by Taliban through moralizing people that education was not a rule nor necessary for girls in Islam. However, nowadays, we are witness to the fact that most of the parents are finally given up and are tired of accepting this wrong, baseless concept.

A great example to that would be Shamsia’s parents and relatives, who despite the attack on their daughters, still allowed them to come to school and get educated.

“My parents told me to keep coming to school even if I am killed,” said Shamsia.

Comparing Shamsia and the other 14 victim girls’ lives to my life in Afghanistan, I see no difference except the fact that I had been waiting for anything that would have happened to me, but in their case, it really did happen.
In any case, I remember my days going to school, especially the last two years of which were the hardest one. Every time coming out of home or school, I was wondering whether I would safely reach the other safe place, whether this would be the last day of my life, whether I might be the next blameless victim of these brutalities.

In spite of the fact that this attack has become a way to better encourage girls to emphasize on getting education more than before, and considering this attack as an unwise, ignoramus act of uneducated stupid people, these people still did not stay silent and tried to make more troubles for school girls in all over Afghanistan.

In the previous year, at several occasions, poisonous gas was sprayed inside many girl’s schools in Kandahar, Parwan, Kapisa, and Kabul which resulted in infirmity and narcosis of many students and teachers in the schools.
Acid throwing attacks have been increasing “in a number of Asian countries including Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Cambodia and Bangladesh” in the last several years. Even though the targets are usually same, women, in these attacks, the purposes differ according to the attacker’s aim.

“Case studies in Bangladesh show that the victims of acid violence had done absolutely nothing wrong. The perpetrator had low self esteem and was hurt by her rejection or her family’s refusal of his marriage proposal. Not all men throw acid.” said Dr. Saira Rahman Khan, a human rights lawyer in Bangladesh.

This shows that the aim behind the acid attack is different from country to country. Acid attacks happen to girls in Bangladesh due to either refusal of sexual advances, rejection of a marriage proposal, land dispute, or dowry demands.
In Bangladesh acid attack happens most frequently than Afghanistan, which only once faced this attack. According to Acid Survivors Foundation’s estimation in Bangladesh, there were around 115 acid attacks in 2010.

Afghanistan was witness to this attack only once, in 12th November 2008 when some unknown men sprayed acid upon 15 school girls in Afghanistan. This clarifies that acid attacks happen in Afghanistan in order to prevent girls from getting education.

This was in fact the first time that acid attack occurred by some unknown men in Afghanistan. All the 15 girls were badly injured and sent to hospitals for emergency treatment, but what remained as a harsh memory to them were the scars on their innocent faces. After some investigation on this part, the Afghan government considered this attack to be an act of those opposed to girl’s education in Afghanistan.

Since the beginning of the Taliban government, girls were not allowed to go to school or get educated because of the concept that Taliban had about female education in Islam. Taliban thought that Muslim female should not educate. Although the Taliban government fell apart in 2001, still this concept remained in the thoughts of many in Afghanistan, and this resulted in continuation of the same concept in majority of the families.

However this concept has been vanishing through the course of time in many open-minded families. This huge improvement and the sign of an upcoming bright future for girls have provoked the enemies to start taking action. Finally, these enemies has thought of new ways to prevent girls, such as creating fear in their souls, spraying acid, using poisonous gas, warning them through posting poster that has the slogan “Don’t Let Your Daughters Go to School,” putting schools in fire, destructing school buildings and so on.

Even though the government has arrested 10 men, who are supposed to be involved in the acid attack, still the enemies did not stop their dreadful actions. As mentioned earlier, poisonous gas was spread in many schools in the capital as well as some other provinces.

These situations might continue in future as well, but according to Abdul Ershad, one retired police officer in Afghanistan, the security has been better than before in the last 6 months.

“Due to the steady resolution and reconsideration of the security situation inside the country, every time, police plots and sections increase in all corners in order to get control of situation.” said Mr. Ershad.

According to Mr. Ershad, there are three different segments working in maintaining security and safety in
Afghanistan. These segments are National Army, Governmental security, and Police.
“Even though police’s job is to investigate crimes and criminals, several police members are being killed each day either in a fight with Taliban or in trying to arrest the suicidal bomb attackers.” said Mr. Ershad.

This is something we should consider while thinking about how to prevent violence against school girls including acid attack or the spread of poisonous gas in schools. The general insecurity in overall the country has a great impact on this issue. As “police’s job is to investigate crimes,” sometimes police is not able to do this duty due to its all time efforts in keeping the general security. Therefore, while endeavoring to keep the general security, small common attacks on school girls remain untouched. Even if the police attempts to investigate and bring out this issue, still they cannot put an end to it due to the big scale problems such as bomb attacks, suicidal attacks, civil war between the Taliban and the government, and many more.

Overall, case of acid attack in Afghanistan can only be removed by trying to arrest the criminals behind the scene, encouraging more girls to go to schools in order to show the enemies that we are not to give up at any cost, and by keeping the general security as a whole.

On the other side, ways to prevent acid attacks differ in Bangladesh as the reason behind doing these attacks also differ.

“Due to campaigns by women’s rights organizations, an amendment was made in 1984, in the Penal Code and a new section added – section 326A, which provides punishment for ‘voluntarily causing grievous hurt in respect of eyes, head or face by means of corrosive substance, etc. Later on, in 2002, two laws were promulgated: The Acid Crime Control Act and the Acid Control Act. The first one deals with the crime of acid violence and punishments. The Suppression of Repression against Women and Children Act of 2000 also contains provisions for acid violence.” said Ms. Khan.

Apart from these attempts, there has also been another reaction to these attacks. One of them is the creation of ASF (Acid Survivors Foundation) which is an organization aimed to eliminate acid violence in Bangladesh.

“Men need to be gender sensitized at a young age. Respect for women as mothers and sisters must start from the home, just as the father must respect the mother. The issue of ‘masculinity’ also needs to be addressed in a more gender friendly manner. Violence against women usually stems from lack of respect and low social morale. One of the campaigns run by the Acid Survivors Foundation has the title “Only Cowards Throw Acid”. That is a good starting point!!” said Ms. Khan.

In fact, acid attack in Bangladesh has been one of the ways to take revenge from girls in Bangladesh. This is all due to the way males are socialized as Ms. Khan also emphasizes on this. Consequently, in order to decrease or diminish these attacks, men should be socialized through the ways that they might get the habit of respecting women to its full extent.

Even though some days after the acid attack in Kandahar, there was notstudent inside the Mirwais school, days later, more students started to come to school than ever before. Donations from all over the world were also donated to the construction and improvement of this school.

Besides that, several other steps have been taken both globally and inside Afghanistan in order to lessen acid violence as well as building more schools as a sign of braveness, and consistency of women.

“The Global Fund for Women at Cornell University is currently studying acid violence. They have completed their report and it will be published at the end of this month.” said Ms. Khan making sure to clarify the importance of this issue and its solutions in all over the globe.

By July 13th, 2010, the governor of Kandahar, Toryalai Weesa, signed a contract with \ the director of a private construction company to built seven schools in Kandahar province.
Aside from these governmental approaches towards facilitating education for girls, there have also been some organizations and NGOs, which are trying to build schools for girls and educating them. One of these organizations is the Central Asia Institute whose aims are to promote education for Afghanistan and Pakistan students, especially girls. Greg Mortenson, the executive director of the Central Asia Institute, has built over 131 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As the army and police have been trained day by day, security is also getting better according to Mr. Ershad.
These all as a whole show the huge improvement towards girls’ education and security in Afghanistan. One more will be contributed by me as well.

Comments

Sarvina's picture

Wonderful!

Hi Mursal,

Your article is so powerful, I do love reading your assignment. Acid attack is always occurred everywhere in the world, sometime through this thing - it might encourage the survival to fight with the acid act and bring them to get education as you have mentioned in your article. Thus I was wondering why they threw the acid to the young girl Shamsia...? Another thing why gas was sprayed inside many girl’s schools? I know the acid attack in my country is always occurred with people who get jealous to each other, sexual or some other problems but I was wondering of Shamsia - why she also got the acid.

I am just eager to know more about that actual cause to that little girl, anyways I think your article is meaningful and nothing less more. Well-done Mursal! Congratulations!

Love,
Sarvina

Regards,

Sarvina from Cambodia

Mursal Hamraz's picture

Thanks a lot!

Dear Sarvina,

Thanks a lot dear for taking time to read my assignment, and thanks for your nice comment.
Actually, the acid attack had happened to Shamsia because female education's enemies were trying to stop her from going to school and make her afraid of going to school in future. This was the reason.

With love,

Mursal

warona's picture

Events well narrated!

Hello there!

When in other countries every year people are busy with school fees,wondering about what would become of their children, so there are some people who on the other busy wasting their time , by trying to prevent these girls from school.You know the devil is aliar.In my country i have never heared of such thing,instead we will rather encourage children to go to school because knowledge is power.There is too much injustice if at all also the police are killed as trying to stop such behaviour,My sister this is all insanity.Crazy people will dare destroy the innocent lives.

Mursal your piece is all amazing to me,it has been all history to me,thank today i have first hand informtion.

Wish you all the Best

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

Mursal Hamraz's picture

You are right!

Dear Warona,

Thanks a lot for taking time to read and comment on my assignment. You are right, there are people in this world who instead of thinking to improve education, are trying to destroy education for female. This is in fact a waste of time, and I am sure that female who become victim of these situations will be more encouraged to go to school and get education.

Wish you too all the best,

Mursal

nilima's picture

why people waste time on

why people waste time on preventing others to reach out to the light of education! What a sad story to read. I cant even imagine going to school with the fear. Mursal, you have written a very serious issue, while the world is working on sending the girls to school , here people are putting obstacles on that! thank you for enlightening with this issues that there are even the places where these things happens and i am much happy to read it in your voice. thank you so much!

Dear Nilima,

Thanks a lot for taking time to read my assignment and for commenting on it. Yes, alas for those people who are wasting time to stop female from education, but they are in fact unaware of the value of time and female education for the betterment of the future of their societies.

Best wishes,

Mursal

nilima's picture

why people waste time on

why people waste time on preventing others to reach out to the light of education! What a sad story to read. I cant even imagine going to school with the fear. Mursal, you have written a very serious issue, while the world is working on sending the girls to school , here people are putting obstacles on that! thank you for enlightening with this issues that there are even the places where these things happens and i am much happy to read it in your voice. thank you so much!

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Sister, you're amazingly tough!

Wow!!!! And this line ..' ...“My parents told me to keep coming to school even if I am killed,” said Shamsia....' You Afghans are real serious on pursuing a better life, in changing your nation for the better, at the stake of your very own lives! Really, wow!!!! We are much luckier now in my country, because girls/women now enjoy education as much as our boys/men. But it took a lot of tough women in our history, too, for us to enjoy this much. We had the famous "Women of Malolos" during the Spanish colonial period who, while serving food during an important affair, braved the chance to slip a letter secretly to the highest authority, for the freedom to go to school....

Really, sister, I'm so awed at how women stand their ground and fight a fierce battle in our noble pursuits! Even acid throwing cannot stop you Afghans ... you're on your way and you will prevail! All the best...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Mursal Hamraz's picture

Thanks a lot!

Dear Emie,

Thanks a lot dear for taking time to read and comment on my assignment. Yeah, I am sure, most of the Afghans are really eager to learn and educate and will Inshallah be able achieve this goal fully in future. It is good to hear that the situation is good for female education in your country. Thanks for sharing the story of Women of Malolos, I got to learn new information.

Bests,
Mursal

vivian's picture

Hi mursal, Your piece is an

Hi mursal,

Your piece is an information material of the situation of things in your country especially as it concern acid bath. The figure in 2010 is so high as 115. This is a terrible issue. Acid bath is not so common in my country and even when you hear of it, it is also the same marriage issue.

You have done a good job. Quite similar to mine. A good frontline story.

All the best

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Mursal Hamraz's picture

Thanks for taking time to read!

Dear Vivian,

Yeah, the figure of acid attacks in Bangladesh is 115 in 2010. The reason of these attacks in your country is similar to the ones in Bangladesh. As related to Afghanistan, the reason behind these acid attacks is stopping female from education.

Best of luck,

Mursal

Potter's picture

A Grim and Tragic Reality

Mursal, thank you for taking on such a horrific topic. You have done a great job of comparing the motivation for acid attacks between countries. Do women have the right to an education? Do women have the right to refuse a marriage proposal? At the root of such attacks whatever the supposed reason, is a total lack of respect for women.

I learned a lot from you research. It is encouraging to know there are orgnizations, like the Acid Survivors Foundation, addressing these attacks, providing medical assistance as well as psycholgical and economic support as victims struggle to rebuild their lives. It is encouaging to learn that here is international attention focused on the issue.

I regret that your own education was plagued with fear. But you persevered with courage and determination. Your voice will help provide that courage and determination to other girls and women in Afghanistan and beyond. You desctibe the students of Mirwais School returning to their school, "on a fearful, but hopeful journey towards the path of knowledge and wisdom." What courageous heroes!

Mursal Hamraz's picture

Thanks a lot!

Dear Potter,

Thanks for taking time to read and comment on my assignment. Of course, attack attacks indicate the disrespect towards female and their own life's decisions.
Yeah, we are really grateful for some of the international organizations and other organizations for helping these women both physically and psychologically which in fact they need.
In fact, I am also inspired by their braveness and courage that despite these all brutalities they still want to pursue to their education.

Regards,

Mursal

HARMONY's picture

This is so revolting. So

This is so revolting. So women are not free to refuse mariage, to go to school, or chose who their sexual partner can be and simply say no?

Those people are wicked. And i am offusqued that in the name of religion someone can became that selfish and dangerous for others!
Your piece is wonderful, it was long but deserved to be read. Thanks for your voice.

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

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