The Girl On The Schoolbus

Malala Yousafzai

Pakistanis protest against the assassination attempt on Malala Yousafzai in Islamabad on October 11, 2012.© AFP/GettyImages

Malala Yousufzai got on the bus on Tuesday morning to go to school. With her, were two of her school friends, also bound for Mingora, the largest town in Pakistan’s Swat District, where their school is located. It was an ill-fated journey. Before the girls could get to school that morning, Tehreek-e-Taliban gunmen accosted the bus.

One of the girls, Shazia Razaman confirmed that they were specifically looking for Malala. She was easy to find, and when they did find her, they shot her in the head. Hours, later as Pakistanis and the world, watched, aghast and stunned at yet another act of inhumane violence, the spokesperson for the Tehreek-e-Taliban, specifically took responsibility for the attack saying:

“She is a Western-minded girl. She always speaks against us. We will target anyone who speaks against the Taliban.”

The attack on Malala Yousufzai, the orchestrated and continuing bombings of schools, the murders of Farida Afridi and Ghazala Javed represent the forced eviction of women from the Pakistani public sphere.

Malala Yousafzai had been a marked girl since she was only eleven. In 2007, when the Tehreek-e-Taliban overtook the hill district of Swat, a picturesque town that used to attract tourists from around the country, she had kept an Urdu diary for the BBC of life under the Pakistani Taliban. The diary detailed her frustrations with the Taliban’s edict to shut down all girls schools; each word of it conveying the helplessness of a girl eager for an education being thwarted by religious extremism and political forces beyond her control.

The Pakistani security forces retook the District of Swat from the Tehreek-e-Taliban in May 2009 and after several months of follow up operations, schools were finally opened. Malala Yousufzai was ready to go and for her courage the Government of Pakistan honored her with a National Peace Award.

Now she lies in a hospital bed fighting for her life.  The attack on Malala comes in the footsteps of escalating violence against women and minorities led by the Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan.  In recent months, scores of schools have been bombed, including a school in the towns of Mohmand, Bannu, Charsadda and most recently Nowshera.

The attacks are not the only evidence of the Taliban’s orchestrated plan to remove women, especially outspoken and activist women from the public sphere. On July 4, 2012, Farida Afridi a 25-year-old activist who led an organization that informed women about their rights was similarly killed in broad daylight for her work in helping women in her region. She had received many threats in the past, refusing the Taliban’s premise that being a devout and believing Muslim woman required sequestering herself in the private sphere.  Two weeks before Farida’s death, the Pakistani singer Ghazala Javed, who was also from Swat and who sang in the native Pashto language of the region was also killed late in the night while traveling with her father in the region.

Together, the attack on Malala Yousufzai, the orchestrated and continuing bombings of schools, the murders of Farida Afridi and Ghazala Javed represent the forced eviction of women from the Pakistani public sphere. While the world pays attention only to the most grisly of the Taliban’s barbaric attacks; Pakistanis are becoming weary of the staple of fear, intimidation and brute violence being forced down their throats by a group whose definition of piety has reduced Islam to only what is visibly anti-Western.

As the world, now watches the slow progress of a young girl who was brave enough to refuse to bow to the sinister threats of the Taliban, hundreds of thousands of schoolgirls in Pakistan watch in thrall as their future and their desires to go to school stand in the balance.  Malala’s words can give them strength:

“I have rights.  I have the right of education.  I have the right to play.  I have the right to sing.  I have the right to talk.  I have the right to go to market.  I have the right to speak up.”

Let Malala and other courageous Pakistani women know they’re not alone! Send a message of support now!

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23 thoughts on “The Girl On The Schoolbus

  1. How can the international community help her and her family/community? Can we donate to the family or her father's school?

    • Money's not the issue here. Girls need to be able to go to school without being turned away or having to fear being attacked for it. Sending money won't stop terrible people from putting bullets in innocent girls heads

      • i too believe there is more love for this brave young lady than she has any idea..she believed she was fighting alone and her stength alone is to be commended…I am not sure what God she prays to but know i also will keep her in my prayers..because she will be rewarded for her bravery someday…she has started a movement that has in some part changed the world..brought people togehter..from many nations and walks of life to see the painful acts of the taliban…<3 little princess

  2. It is simply heart breaking that happened to this brave young woman. I hope that this will make people stop and think about the situation in many countries and how our sisters are being treated.

  3. I am hoping that this mindless tragedy makes us all realize how very grateful we should be to have the privileges we often take for granted in Canada. I agree with Shelley…how can we HELP? Actions speak louder than words ever will.

  4. متأسلمون وتجار الدين والجهلاء بالدين وعبدة الطاغوط من منتسبى ما يسمى بالجماعات الدينية والأسلامية وجماعات الأسلام السياسى ماذا فعلوا مع الفتاة المسكينة التى كانت تطالب بحق الفتيات فى التعليم أجتمع مجلس شوراهم الحقير وقرر أن الفتاة خطر على الدين ويجب قتلها وأرسولوا نجس من أنجاسهم صعد لحافلة المدرسة التى تستقلها الفتاة ووقف أمام الفتاة وسالها عن أسمها وعندما تأكد من شخصها ماذا فعل الخسيس القذر رفع البندقية ووضعها على رأس الفتاة وأطلق الرصاص فى راسها بمنتهى الشجاعة الزائفة والحقارة والتدنى والتجرد من الدين ومن كل قيم بشرية محترمة وبالطبع لم ولن نسمع من أى حقير ممن ينتسبون لأحقر خلق الله على الأرض اى ادانة لهذا الفعل الخسيس طبعا لأنهم جميعا يؤمنون بنفس الأفكار الأرهابية والقتل عند الأختلاف حتى مع من هم من نفس ديانتهم

  5. If this incident doesn't wake up Pakistanis, then there is no hope really. Everytime I think about this brave little girl, who just wanted Education, and such was the outcome, my heart sinks. What kinda inhuman it takes to shoot at a 14yr old girl.
    Its not shame on Taliban, its shame on humanity! People have more power than the military or government, yet there are these places on earth which is ruled by these mindless barbarians. Its shameful.

  6. The world has to acknowledge that Malala Yousufzai is one of those rare heroes of the human history who stand alone showing enormous courage and strength against extremist and absolute forces for freedom and justice. She decided to oppose brutality and oppression at a very young age despite being a girl of a region where no women has any kind of freedom. It makes her the rarest of the rarest person for human rights and freedom. The Pakistan State must ensure that this brave girl is provided the best medical attention for her survival. She has made Pakistan a proud nation and her contribution to the world of humanity and freedom is unparalleled.

  7. Religious fanatics hate women, but what they hate more is educated women.

    I remember when I was helping RAWA in the 80s, they were frustrated by the worlds reaction to problems in Afghanistan, the fact that those 'freedom fighters' that Reagan called 'the modern fversion of Americas founding fathers' were poisoning the water of villages who allowed girls to go to school, they were burning the schools with children inside, they were raping and lynching female teachers.

    WORLD did not do anything to stop that, but now we are surprised to see the action of those monsters?
    Why we support these monsters in Saudi Arabia, in Yemen, in Libya and in Syria while they are fighting the 'good war' but when they do the same thing they were taught to do in places we don't like them to act, we looked astonished and surprised.

    These are the monsters the western world has funded and created. These are the monsters that get paid by the Saudi regime.
    These are the monsters that get their support from the news channels such as Al Arabia.
    But the world is too busy fighting against the imaginary Iranian nuclear bomb and forgets the main danger to the world are these bastards who are killing innocent children who dare to stand up and saying no to their manchauvinistic bigotry.

  8. Be brave like Malala…….people forgot their identity calling themselves MALALA….we love you my sister Malala……….Our prayers are with you…………

  9. I wish I could do something other than sending support words. In that, she and her family and supporters in vicinity have all my support but yet…

  10. I can't believe you're all distracted by this shallow media-manipulation. Her story is sad, but why is she treated as so much more important than the dozens of children murdered weekly by US drones? THOSE are the ones I want to see acknowledged by the media daily, but THEY ARE BARELY MENTIONED!
    It's obvious media-manipulation a'la Jessica Lynch; pretending the life of ONE female is important, in order to disregard and distract from the thousands more being slaughtered by US.
    The media are sensationalizing this kid like she's the Anti-Arab-Kim-Kardashian, and you're all falling for it; it's maddening!!!

    And AI has lost my respect by discouraging dissent on it's own blog. I don't give a crap if you delete this or not, eat me.