Attacks on Girls’ Schools on the Rise as Taliban Make Gains
Local Taliban leaders give deputy education director of the Farah province, Mohammad Sadiq Halimi, an ultimatum. "Fire all male teachers at girls’ schools" he was told. Replace them with women — men should not teach girls, the militants said. The government did as it was told. “We didn’t want to give them an excuse” to shut down the schools by force, Mr. Halimi said. But Farah’s schools were not spared. Last month, on two successive nights, armed men on motorcycles set fire to two girls’ schools just outside Farah city, the provincial capital. Both were badly damaged and the teaching materials inside were destroyed, ending classes indefinitely for nearly 1,700 girls. Besides terrifying teachers, students and their families, the attacks have renewed larger fears of a return to the repressive days of Taliban rule, as the militants and the United States try to negotiate a peace deal. Until the Taliban government was toppled in 2001, girls’ education was outlawed and women were confined to their homes.