Two important incidents have happened recently, which attracted national and international attention and both the incidents dealing with girls. In both cases, the girls involved have been courageous enough to highlight the problems facing them. It’s like a fight between David and Goliath and as the saying goes when two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.
In one case, the “grass” is the 14-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai, who was gunned down by a Taliban gunman for openly attending school. According to reports, Malala and her family were warned three times but Malala was determined to go ahead with her quest for education. She was accused of promoting “western thinking.” By no stretch of imagination, going to school is tantamount to promoting “western thinking.” It’s a shame that in the 21st century, girls are shot at for going to school and getting education to better their lives. When the Taliban took over the Swat Valley in 2007, they forced men to grow beards, preventing women from going to the market and blowing up schools, the majority of which were girls’ schools. Malala has been championing the right of girls to attend school since she was 11 at the time when Taliban took over that area of Pakistan.
The shooting of Malala Yousafzai has ignited international outcry and plunged usually divided Pakistan by uniting them against the Taliban, who proudly took responsibility and credit for shooting her. What a shame that Ms. Yousafzai spent the first United Nations International Day for Girls (October 11, 2012), a day set aside to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges HYPERLINK “http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/Girls-(musician)”girls face around the world, lying in a Pakistani hospital while the whole country prayed for her quick recovery. In reserving a day for advocacy and action by and for girls, the UN has signaled its commitment to end gender stereotypes, discrimination, violence, and economic disparities that disproportionately affect girls.
The illiterate fundamentalist Taliban leadership has been living in the primitive age. To them women have no place in schools and that they should be confined to the four walls of the home. They do not understand that in modern societies, women play an equal role in society with men. They are doctors, lawyers, engineers and even prime ministers of different countries and shouldering responsibilities shoulder to shoulder with men.
As one wise man has said: “If you have a son and a daughter and have means to educate only one of them, you should educate the daughter because a woman is the one who is responsible for maintaining the household. If you educate a woman, you educate a family.”
The Taliban and other less progressive segments of societies should learn that women can play a greater role in their communities if they are educated and have the ability to discuss issues facing them.
We hope that Malala will recover soon from her wounds and not be paralyzed because of the shooting. We pray for her quick recovery so that she can take her rightful place behind a desk in the school. She is already a hero and a role model for many girls around the world and there is no doubt that when she grows up, she will play a leading role in her country.
The other story that I am referring to, also involving a girl, about a Canadian girl, 15-year-old Amanda Todd, who was found dead in a Port Coquitlam, B.C. home after she posted a heartbreaking video on You Tube, itemizing how she was bullied and harassed online.
Bullying is the current trend in many Canadian schools. Bullying, which can be physical, verbal or emotional, occurs in all areas. It can occur in nearly any part in or around the school building, though usually it more often occurs during physical education, recess, hallways, bathrooms, after school activities and on school buses. Bullying in school sometimes consists of a group of students taking advantage of or isolating one student in particular and gaining the loyalty of bystanders. These bullies taunt and tease their “victim” before physically bullying the target. Targets of bullying are often pupils who are considered strange or different by their peers to begin with, making the situation harder for them to deal with.
In September, Amanda posted her story on You Tube by holding a piece of paper, detailing her story. She made public her story that she was shunned at school and as a result was feeling lonely and suicidal. Changing the school made no difference. Her video concludes with a starling message:” Every day, I think why am I still here… I have no body. I need someone.”
This cancer that is plaguing our schools called bullying has to stop before we lose other Amandas. No one to deserves to be bullied. Anyone who is a victim should immediately bring it to the attention of school officials who should give it a priority before someone loses their life. Parents should also alert schools officials as soon as they learn that their kid is a victim of bullying. It is a joint venture between school officials and parents who will put an end to bullying. We hope that next year’s United Nations International Day for Girls will be better than the last one.