Sunday, May 29, 2011

Taliban gunmen have killed the headteacher of a girls' school near the Afghan capital after he ignored warnings to stop teaching girls

Khan Mohammad, the head of the Porak girls' school in Logar province, has been shot dead near his home. Mohammad had received several death threats from the Taliban warning him not to teach girls. Education for women was banned by the Taliban government from 1996 to 2001 as un-Islamic. There are periodic attacks against schoolgirls, their teachers and school buildings. Women have won back some rights, including education and the right to vote, since the Taliban were toppled after the US-led invasion of late 2001. The Afghan government and its western backers have pledged to guarantee those advances, although the promise seems precarious as Afghan leaders begin a reconciliation process that includes talks with the Taliban. Development agencies fear that western governments are focusing too heavily on plans to complete a security handover from foreign forces to Afghans by the end of 2014 without cementing gains for women, such as education. Under the Taliban women were barred from access to health care and made to wear burqas covering them from head to toe, and only boys were allowed to attend school. Many of those customs are still widespread. Girls have had acid thrown in their faces by Islamists while walking to school and schools have been set on fire. In 2010, there was a spate of mysterious gas poisonings at girls' schools, including some in Kabul, in which dozens of girls fell ill.

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