On Thursday morning, about 74 girls attending Bibi Hawa Girls High School became ill after ingesting a poisonous gas. Police and school representatives transported the girls to the hospital after they fell unconscious and other classmates looked on and cried. The 8th, 10th, and 11th grade students were treated by Dr. Jamil Frotan, who stated, “We have already sent samples of their blood to the Ministry of Public Health and it will soon become clear what the reason for their illness was.”
Located in Taluquan, the capital of Afghanistan’s far North province of Takhar, this school’s upsetting incident is not an unusual one. Just a few days prior to the Bibi Hawa poisoning, another Taluquan girls school was gassed and hospitalized dozens of students. Four similar incidents occurred between May and June last year, poisoning 700 girls through gas and contaminated drinking water. Faculty and staff were told to remain on grounds after dismissal from school to search and examine the area for suspicious activity or materials.
The extreme conservativism of Afghan society has resulted in many of these mass poisonings organized by those who believe women should not be educated. Unforunately, their plan is succeeding in a sense, as over 550 schools across the country have been shut down by the Afghan Education Ministry for safety reasons. It is all the more disturbing to realize that it has been over a decade since the right to fairness and equality in education was officially approved, yet such attacks remain common. This fact makes it all the more troubling that there has been no indication as to who is responsible for these horrendous crimes.
Photos via PolicyMic and HomelandSecurityNewsWire