Afghan women and girls continue to be frequent victims of attack by elements within Afghanistan that want to suppress women's rights, namely the Taliban. Under Taliban rule women and girls were prohibited from going to school and participating in most aspects of society. While the incidents are still being investigated and no one has claimed responsibility, 2 girls schools in the Afghan capital, Kabul, were recently struck by apparent gas attacks that injured more than 100 schoolgirls as well as their teachers, including one that sickened 60 students on August 25th and another on August 28th that left 48 young girls in need of medical care.
The Afghan Ministry of Public Health confirmed the presence of toxic organophosphates in the blood of victims in 10 separate incidents in the past 2 years. Organophosphates are common components of insecticides and herbicides. They are also found in chemical weapons including sarin and VX gas. Signs of organophosphate poisoning include headache, tiredness, upset stomach and breathing trouble, all similar to the symptoms shown by the students and teachers at the Kabul schools.
The United States, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "is deeply concerned by the recent poisonings of Afghan school children in Kabul. ... Afghan schools, teachers, and students, particularly girls, are regularly targeted by anti-government elements seeking to destabilize Afghanistan and undermine progress." The U.S. condemns such attacks and is working with the Afghan government to address this issue and prevent further incidents from occurring.
Afghanistan and the United States, together with 40 other co-sponsors, presented a joint resolution to the United Nations Human Rights Council that was adopted by consensus in June concerning attacks on innocent students, particularly girls in Afghanistan. The U.S. urges the international community to continue their support for the government of Afghanistan in combating repression and violence against girls seeking an education, and in bringing to justice those responsible for these appalling attacks.
The United States stands with the people of Afghanistan as they work to create a society in which all individuals, including women and girls are free to fully participate.