One of the saddest and most viscerally troubling indications that the Taliban is regaining ground in Afghanistan is the crescendoing rate of attacks on women and girls. Religious zealots seem to be succeeding in destroying what few precious civil rights women and girls have enjoyed since the United States drove the Taliban from power.
Experts can quibble over how much of a stronghold Taliban fighters have established in the main city, Kabul. But there's little disagreement about the amount of damage the Taliban has done to Afghan girls since trying to regain power. The Taliban banned girls' education when it controlled the country. Girls poured back into Afghanistan's single-sex schools after the successful U.S. invasion. But now, IRIN, a United Nations news agency, confirms, "Over the past months, girls' schools in Kandahar, Sar-e Pol, Zabol, Lowgar, and Vardak provinces have been attacked. Most followed written threats posted overnight in towns and villages in these regions, ordering residents not to send their girls to school."
A recent attack on a European Union-funded girls school led school leaders to predict some 90 students will not return from a school break. The Feminist Majority, not normally pro-war, is calling on Congress and the Bush administration to increase security (read: troop levels) in Afghanistan to protect girls and women. Many children, especially girls, are kept home out of fear. Lack of resources has also been a major problem in rebuilding the education system, which was completely destroyed after decades of war. "Lessons in Terror: Attacks on Education in Afghanistan," a report just released by Human Rights Watch, says there are some areas where the majority of primary-school-age girls do not attend school at all and only 5 percent of girls compared with 20 percent of boys attend secondary schools.