Breaking: Another 160 Girls, Teachers, Poisoned At School In Afghanistan

And here we go again: another depressing story of misogyny in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, May 29, 160 schoolgirls and teachers were admitted to a hospital after a suspected poisoning at a school in Afghanistan’s northern Takhar province.

The female students, ranging in age from 10 to 20 years old, had been poisoned in their classrooms by a contaminated spray that caused the girls to suffer from vomiting, headaches, and dizziness. The attack occurred at the Ashan Dara Girls School in Talokhan, the provincial capital.

A report by Radio Free Afghanistan said that some of the girls reported smelling a foul odor before falling unconscious. One of the victims of the attack told the press that, “When I entered the class I smelled something and then I started to vomit and fall unconscious; I don’t remember what happened after that.”

Third Large-Scale Attack Against Female Students This Year

This is the third such large-scale attack against female students this year.

 Last Wednesday, over 120 Afghan girls and three teachers in the Takhar province were poisoned when a toxic substance was released into their school’s air.

In April, also in Takhar province, more than 150 women and girls were hospitalized – not a toxic spray this time, but  the cause was apparently poisoned well water at a school. Local health officials blamed the acts on extremists opposed to women’s education. The education ministry of Afghanistan announced earlier this month that 550 schools have been closed in 11 different provinces with strong Taliban influence.

According to CNN, the Taliban have denied responsibility for last week’s attack and claimed that US and NATO forces are responsible in an attempt to “defame” the Taliban.

While nearly all the incidents involve girls, earlier this month, nearly 400 boys at a school in Khost province fell ill after drinking water from a well that a health official said may have been poisoned.

At other times, hardline Islamists have thrown acid in the faces of women and girls as they were walking to school.

Fears For The Future Of Afghanistan

The battle indicates broader fears about Afghanistan’s future amid the drawdown of U.S. troops in the country. NATO leaders last week signed off on President Obama’s exit strategy from Afghanistan, which calls for an end to combat operations next year and the withdrawal of the U.S.-led international military force by the end of 2014.

Since the 2001 toppling of the Taliban, which banned education for women and girls, females have returned to schools, especially in Kabul. There are now more than a million Afghan girls attending schools throughout the country.

However, periodic attacks still occur against girls, teachers and their school buildings, usually in the more conservative south and east of the country, from where the Taliban insurgency draws most support. Observers also note that abuse of women remains common in the post-Taliban era and is often accepted in conservative and traditional families, where women are barred from school and sometimes subjected to domestic violence.

Anyone who can hate children enough to poison them has clearly lost touch with his own humanity. For the sake of these girls, the Afghan government must make the safety of its students a priority.

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Photo Credit: Michael Foley Photography

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Sumner Berg
Sumner Berg2 years ago

Christians throughout history have caused more deaths than any other religion but they are gradually becoming civilized. On the other hand the Muslims which are an offshoot of Christianity are still living in the gutter and act like gutter rats. I can think of one useful purpose of nuclear energy and that is to vaporize all Muslims!

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M.2 years ago

Extremely sad that young female children are targeted - I agree with the last statement in the article that anyone who could hate children enough to poison them has lost his touch of humanity.
It would be my hope that the Government will protect these young students!

Lynn C.
Lynn c.3 years ago

More pain - as if there wasn't enough in this world already.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin3 years ago

Pres. Karzai have been instrumental in creating a law that allows men to physically punish their wifes and walk free. In a country with leadership like that, it's not likely that women and female children will ever be free to pursue their own goals. Unfortunately, Western influence will not help either. I see only one solution and that is total innihilation of all Taliban and their associates, with any means possible. Unfortunately.

Nancy G Ellison
NANCY G Ellison3 years ago


L E E.
Lois E.3 years ago

The USA cannot tell them what to do, and what they cannot do, they have to learn on their own. It sickens me to see such hostility toward children and women. What a shame that they do not know the Creator, but serve a false god allah, who teach hate.

Howard C.
.3 years ago

Sadly it is not only in Afganistan that woman are targeted for seeking to live independant lives. What is far more difficult is to see exactly what can be done to address the issue, indeed I think that Martha E has a point (although it isn't only the US that is represented in Afganistan of course, the UK (and other countries) have a prescence too). I would like to think that in my life time I will see a world where everyone was valued for what they had to offer irrespective of the colour of their skin, their gender, the sexual orientation etc, I would love to see it but I am not confident that I will.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago


Kristen H.
Kristen H.3 years ago

Absolutely unacceptable.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle3 years ago

The United States cannot keep propping up a country where the top male officials and males in general, do not support females as equal. It isn't just the Taliban. It is the culture, the religion. We cannot keep sacrificing our children to prop up antiquated cultures -- they must change on their own, or perish. Sorry, but that is the truth.