Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The desire for education in Afghanistan

Here is a Fresh Air interview with Dexter Filkins (the author of The Forever War). Most of the interview is about the general situation in Afghanistan. However, about 20 minutes into the interview, he talks about protests by Afghani women against some appalling new laws (pretty much authorizing marital rape, needing husband's permission to go outside of the house or for putting on makeup, etc) being approved for Shia's in the country. The account of the protest is heartening - but the outcome is depressing as well. Following that, Dexter talks about girls education in Afghanistan. In particular, he gives us an update on the school girls who were the victims of an acid attack by the Taliban. The school is back open - and the girls are back too. Their desire for education is indomitable. In the twenty-first century, though, no one should have to go through this kind of an ordeal simply to have access to basic education.

Should we see this in a positive light? Women even in the most remote parts of the world are demanding rights and education for themselves. Or should we see this as a major disappointment? In an amazingly well-connected world (and 40 years after putting humans on the Moon), there still are numerous places where people are living pretty much in the Middle Ages.