Thursday, May 8, 2014

"our prayers were answered when the French came"

These youngsters have really big dreams (why not? you are only young once). It is important to have their voices heard and it is also takes remarkable courage to take a public stand.

Top Lines:    
[Obvious things that still need to be said out loud] Some Muslims here think it is OK to burn churches or temples because they believe that Christians and Buddhists are wrong. But actually they are the ones that are wrong.

[Harsh but true] I can say that an uneducated girl is worthless.  

[Food for thought for western liberals] Our father told us to pray day and night for the liberation of Timbuktu. Our prayers were answered when the French came.

[Our thoughts in a nutshell] When I grow up, I want to be free … to wear what I like, to move about without restrictions, be able to drive a scooter, go to work, be independent and not be stuck at home. I think that can only come if I and all the girls in Pakistan get education.  

[This is where change must happen] Some parents marry off their daughters even while they're in school as a way of reducing their burden, or because they don't want the girls getting big ideas about the future.  

[You go girl]  If I was one of them, the only thing I would think about after I was released would be revenge. That would make me do so many things, even kill someone maybe. 


We searched online so she could read the story and when she finished the one about the Boko Haram leader she was like: "This man is insane. It's inhumane."

And, you know, it is also heartbreaking for me that Muslims can get really wrong ideas about our God. They are giving Islam a bad name. It's not just Boko Haram, but al-Qaida too. 
They use our religion to justify abducting schoolgirls and being terrorists.

I think they have misconceptions about Islam. Sometimes it happens here in Indonesia too. 

Some Muslims here think it is OK to burn churches or temples because they believe that Christians and Buddhists are wrong. But actually they are the ones that are wrong.
 In the holy book, the Qur'an, it says that we should not discriminate against people.


A girl must get a schooling because she can build herself and be independent. An educated girl can do good to her parents and her children in future. I can say that an uneducated girl is worthless.

Going to school is important to me because I want to be chief prosecutor of the international criminal court, like Fatou Bensouda. We need more justice in Africa.

My school was closed for nearly two years when the jihadists occupied Timbuktu. They used the school as a firing range and chopped up the desks for firewood.

The men who have taken the Nigerian schoolgirls are the same types as we had here. You cannot called them Muslims. They are just criminals. We had thought they were nice people but what we saw went far beyond the limits of Islam. They raped and beat girls. There were unwanted pregnancies. If they saw a girl who was not properly dressed they would take her away to the prison. I never went to their prison but I heard there was a mattress in the prison with a blanket and a mosquito net, and when they had finished with the girl they would send her home. People thought she had been imprisoned but actually she had been raped.

My father, who is a Marabout [traditional Muslim preacher, considered heretical by fundamentalists], made me and my four sisters stay at home. We did household chores and read the Qur'an. If we went out it was for quick errands, never after dark. We had to wear those big veils that they imposed on us. 

Our father told us to pray day and night for the liberation of Timbuktu. Our prayers were answered when the French came.

School is important but even in peacetime we do not have the equipment and means – like electricity or computers – to study to high standards. During the occupation, one of my teachers organised secret lessons at his house. He was very brave because he taught girls and boys together. But he had to stop after the jihadists came to his house one day.

We went back to school in November last year but my school has only six teachers and more than 1,000 pupils. A few weeks before we went back to school there was a suicide car bombing on the army barracks just 100 metres from Bahadou. Flying debris punched a hole in the roof. It was them again.

We are still frightened. Even now there are regular rumours that a jihadist pick-up has been seen or whatever. When that happens we are all sent home.

It is easier to be a boy than a girl. Many girls get married really young. If they want to continue to go to school they have to defy their husbands. That is a sin so you would not do it. Marriage is a gift from God but if you are a girl you must resist it for as long as possible.



I dream of being a doctor when I grow up so I must study. In the Pashtun community to which I belong, even today, many girls my age are not allowed to study. I feel lucky to have parents who work hard so I can. I think education can bring about change in the mindset of the people, hopefully in the next generations.

When I grow up, I want to be free … to wear what I like, to move about without restrictions, be able to drive a scooter, go to work, be independent and not be stuck at home. I think that can only come if I and all the girls in Pakistan get education. We will be stronger and have a more powerful voice and the government will then have to pay heed. I think if I continue my education I can be whatever I want.

I really wish Pakistan could be a more women-friendly place where perpetrators are punished for their crimes, especially those who do bad things to girls – like rape. I recently saw on television how a girl set herself on fire after the police set the accused free.

It is lack of education that has led to the way our society views a girl – just someone who needs to be married off. Even girls, once they reach my age, begin to think of marriage. Little do they or their parents know the value of a girl.

To think of an army of men kidnapping so many girls, it's horrific.

What would their parents be going through? I just shudder to think if I were in their place. Even if some people hate girls going to schools, I don't feel scared. 

 I know the Taliban think seeking western education is against Islam, but they are so wrong. How can any form of education be harmful? In any case we are taught Islamiyat [Islamic teachings] in school.

After what happened to Malala [Yousafzai], I know they can attack me or anyone they take a dislike to, but I don't quite feel scared or threatened.

Many people say having sons is luckier and that daughters are a burden but that is not the case in my home. I love cricket and want to be a cricketer too. I play in school and I don't think it's a sport only for boys. 

I would love to play cricket on the street like boys in my neighborhood do. I envy them but that is just not a done thing here, at least not in my neighborhood and that is when I feel being a girl is a disadvantage in Pakistan.


We go to school and come back peacefully. But the biggest difference is the uncertainty of our dreams. A lot of my classmates have been married off. Some parents marry off their daughters even while they're in school as a way of reducing their burden, or because they don't want the girls getting big ideas about the future. Some husbands don't allow their wives to continue going to school. The problem is this: you don't know when this marriage is coming. You don't know when your education might be cut short. For most women, marriage cuts education short, whereas boys are allowed to go to university.

My sisters, except one who is a dentist, all went abroad for their university. My uncles told my mother: 'You are a non-Muslim, you became a Christian, because your girls are studying abroad.' But my mother doesn't care what people say. She is proud of us and my school [School of Leadership Afghanistan]. And I am really proud of my mother. My father died when I was one and she raised and educated us all on her own.

I think of those girls who were kidnapped, how much pressure they must be under. 
 If I was one of them, the only thing I would think about after I was released would be revenge. That would make me do so many things, even kill someone maybe.
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Link: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/08/muslim-girls-react-nigeria-kidnapping
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regards