Young Pakistani advocate for girls’ rights shot by Taliban

Being engaged as a young woman is something that should be encouraged, but in some places it’s still dangerous and could cost you your life. Tragedy, heroism and inspiration come together with this story of a 14-year old woman gunned down by members of the Taliban in Pakistan for advocating for young women’s rights. Her gripe? It’s not right that women can’t go to school under Taliban rule.

It gets worse. via the NYTimes,

Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, commonly known as the Pakistani Taliban, told my colleague Declan Walsh in a telephone interview that Malala “has become a symbol of Western culture in the area” and had expressed admiration for President Obama. Speaking to Reuters, the militant acknowledged that the victim was young but insisted the attack was justified because “she was promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas,” referring to the ethnic group in northwest Pakistan and eastern Afghanistanwhose conservative values the Taliban claims to defend.

Here’s an amazing video of her from last year:

It’s easy to dismiss this behavior as a far away thing, but as Kristof rightly points out, the value of a girl’s life is at risk everywhere.

Here in the United States, it’s easy to dismiss such incidents as distant barbarities, but we have a blind spot for our own injustices — like sex trafficking. Across America, teenage girls are trafficked by pimps on Web sites like, and then far too often they are treated by police as criminals rather than victims. These girls aren’t just expelled from school; they’re arrested.

And ultimately what is the solution? The US funds increased militarization–but that doesn’t get to the root of the problem.

They shot Malala because girls’ education threatens everything that they stand for. The greatest risk for violent extremists in Pakistan isn’t American drones. It’s educated girls.

Join the Conversation

  • cet

    This is horrific, but I can’t help wonder if we would be hearing about this (on sites that aren’t Feministing, or personal Tumblrs and such) if this were another Desi girl killed in a drone strike.

    • Rachel Davis

      That’s a good point. I doubt it because it wouldn’t directly be the Taliban’s doing. Only the Taliban’s methods to end lives; we’re the great liberator.

  • Rachel Davis

    Today my local newspaper ran this political cartoon by Jimmy Margulies (c) 2012:

    Is it just me or is it upsetting how the focus is being put on the Taliban and not Malala? I don’t think the media should be focusing solely on the Taliban and their atrocities. Shouldn’t we focus on what Malala did in her life and why it was cut short in order to motivate our dedication to bringing justice and democracy back to Pakistan? If we focus solely on the cause of the tragedy instead of using it to bring about the justice Malala lived for then how can we prevent such things from happening again?