KABUL - Afghan President Hamid Karzai called Saturday on tribal and religious leaders to encourage the education of girls , a right which was denied to them under Taliban rule.
Afghanistan’s leader, speaking at a ceremony marking the start of the country’s school year, also urged insurgent groups not to attack teachers and school children, saying that the country could only develop through the spread of education .
“Most importantly, I call on the religious scholars and tribal elders who are present today in the ceremony to encourage the education of girls , Karzai said.
“To encourage children towards education particularly the education of girls is vital and important.” In Kabul and major cities in Afghanistan, enormous progress has been made in women’s rights since the 2001 US-led invasion brought down the Taliban regime, which banned girls from going to school and women from working. But in remote areas where the traditional patriarchal system is very much the norm, life for most women has barely improved at all. Afghan police Saturday said they rescued 22-year-old Riki in the northern Baghlan province after she was beaten and given electric shocks by her husband who tried to force her into prostitution.
Abdul Matin, who authorities say has another wife, paid Riki’s family 40,000 Afghanis ($800) to seek her hand in marriage.
“Her husband wanted to recover that money by forcing Rika into prostitution,” said Rahima Zarifi, the head of the women affairs department in Baghlan. In January, the president described violence against women as “cowardly”.On Saturday, he stressed that lack of education is keeping Afghanistan in a “miserable condition”.
In 2002 only one million Afghan children were enrolled in school while in 2010 30 percent of teachers in Afghanistan were women.
Ghulam Farooq Wardak, the minister for education , said now there are “8.4 million schoolgoing children in Afghanistan and 39 percent of them are girls”. But he added that 9.5 million children were still being deprived of education in the country.
Afghanistan has had only rare moments of peace over the past 30 years, its education system being undermined by the Soviet invasion of 1979, a civil war in the 1990s and five years of Taliban rule.