In a shocking incident in northern Afghanistan, approximately 80 school girls were poisoned and subsequently hospitalized. This unfortunate event marks the first reported case of poisoning since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, which has resulted in severe restrictions on the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls. The incident occurred in Sar-e-Pul province over the course of the weekend, raising concerns about the safety and well-being of female students in the region.
According to Mohammad Rahmani, the head of the provincial education department, nearly 60 students from Naswan-e-Kabod Aab School and 17 students from Naswan-e-Faizabad School were affected by the poisoning. The two primary schools are located in close proximity to each other and were targeted successively. The motive behind the attacks was revealed to be a personal grudge, although no further details were provided by the education official.
Following the incident, all affected students were promptly transferred to hospitals for treatment. Mohammad Rahmani reassured the public that the girls’ health condition has stabilized, and they are currently recovering. While the specific nature of the poisoning and the exact injuries sustained by the girls were not disclosed, ongoing investigations by the provincial education department aim to uncover more information about the incident. Though Rahmani did not disclose the specific ages of the affected students, he said they were in grades 1 to 6.
The poisoning incident in Afghanistan bears some resemblance to a series of poisonings that occurred in neighboring Iran, predominantly targeting girls’ schools. Since November of the previous year, thousands of students in Iran reported falling ill due to exposure to noxious fumes. However, the responsible parties behind these incidents in Iran have yet to be identified, and the exact substances used in the poisonings remain unknown.
The poisoning of school girls in northern Afghanistan highlights the dire situation faced by Afghan women and girls in the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover. With the severe restrictions imposed on female education and employment, incidents such as these only serve to further marginalize and endanger the lives of Afghan girls seeking an education. The international community should raise its voice against such atrocities and provide support to promote a safe and inclusive environment for Afghan women and girls.