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Female Victims of Taliban Dogma

The Taliban has employed its most savage tactic in these past weeks to deter female students from going to school with acid attacks that disfigure, blind, and even kill its victims. Highly corrosive chemicals burn away at the skin and leave tissue damaged. This acid dissolves the skin, and depending on the concentration, can dissolve the lipids and bones. Acid can destroy the eyes, lips, nose, and ears, leaving these victims severely disabled and requiring extensive surgical treatment. Many of the most severe victims cannot enter into public because their injuries are so disfigured and grotesque.

The psychological effects are even more horrific- if the victims survive, they are marked by their attacks, isolated, neglected, humiliated, and traumatized.Their faces are distorted, stretched, and shine of scar tissue, while their eye sockets have disintegrated entirely, leaving them physically and mentally crippled. Such atrocities occur because the Taliban intends to discourage these women from education. 

The intent of these attacks is to establish the male egotism espoused by and embedded within the Pakistani culture, particularly in remote and uneducated areas where women are valued less than animals and are thought of as second- (or third) class citizens. The attacks are brutal forms of assault and are used in highly trivial cases. Most often, they occur because of females deny romantic advances and stem from revenge, but they are also utilized by groups to establish their dominance and terrorize women into deference. The perpetrators often attack very young girls, and the attacks are aimed at minors about 70% of the time.

The Pakistani Taliban has taken responsibility for this violence by distributing pamphlets that employ scare tactics that urge girls to not attend school. These women were targeted so that they would be unable to unveil their faces, with their only crime being education. The two girls, one named Nabila, who were attacked were attending Kohat University and were returning from an exam when they were assaulted. They required immediate medical attention and were left gruesomely scarred.

Another recent attack in Pakistan was aimed at a 15-year-old girl, Anwasha, by her parents for interacting with a boy. They allegedly refused to seek medical attention even though she suffered severe burns on her face and chest, and she died the next day. This death was employed to “save her honor” so she would not be shamed within her society.

These women are left severely disfigured and unable to marry, be educated, or be employed, but those culpable are rarely brought to justice. Little legislation is employed in the countries where the attacks are prevalent, and the practice is so deeply ingrained within the culture that it is disregarded as customary. The victims are condemned for the assault instead of the perpetrators. This practice is problematic to eliminate, however, because external condemnation is viewed as judgemental and corrupted, and US actions are often patronizing and ignored, with the nations even more opposed to external influence. The issue of the subordination of women within these countries can only be resolved from within, but the deeply ingrained cultural norms make this a monstrous feat.

Written by Claire Glass’15



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