Harassment forces Afghan girls out of school

Afghan girl

The Afghan government has sought to improve access to education for both boys and girls. Some 6.2 million young Afghans, including two million girls now attend school, compared with less than one million, only male students, under the Taliban.

AFGHAN SCHOOLS

Afghanistan is still a deeply traditional and conservative society. Even without the Taliban, some in Kabul oppose young women attending school.

Many feel that once girls reach puberty, leaving the home, even for school, might cast doubt on their honour. Many of the jeering young men hanging around outside schools and following the girls home clearly believe that too.

"In spite of the police presence near every school, the boys manage to tease girls and even kidnap them and sexually abuse them," said a school teacher, who asked not to be named.

"Dozens of schoolgirls don't come to school anymore due to insecurity and intimidation from street boys," she added.

The government says increased harassment and the threat of kidnapping could leave a generation of young Afghans deprived of an education as they retreat to the safety of the home.

That is on top of the already huge security problems facing education in Afghanistan.

"In the past eight months, around 138 students and teachers have lost their lives and another 172 have been wounded in criminal and terror attacks," said Asif Nang, a spokesman for the Ministry of Education.

"About 651 schools have become inactive mostly due to insecurity and another 122 school buildings have been blown up or burned down across the country," said Nang, adding the Ministry of Education was working to improve protection and security for teachers and students across the country.

Some 173,443 students, both men and women, are also unable to go to school or gain an education because security concerns are preventing new schools from being built in the first place, according to Nang.

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