The School Girl

by: Sarah Kess

October 13, 2012

On October 9, armed militants in Pakistan’s Swat Valley stopped a bus carrying children home from school. Which girl, the militants wanted to know, was Malala Yousufzai, the 14 year-old blogger and activist? When two others pointed out Malala, the militants, members of the Pakistani Taliban, opened fire. Malala was shot in the head and two other girls were wounded before the bus sped away. Malala, subject of documentaries and recipient of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize, is now in critical condition at a hospital in Rawalpindi.

Malala came to the world’s attention in 2009, when she began blogging about the extremist militants who seek to prevent girls from attending school. She wrote an anonymous blog documenting her experiences for the BBC, and was later the focus of documentaries by the New York Times and other media outlets. “My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school,” Malala wrote in January 2009. “I was afraid going to school because the Taliban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.”

Though the Pakistani Army conducted a sweeping operation of the Taliban in 2009, small groups of Taliban guerillas have slowly filtered back into Swat. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling Malala’s crusade for education rights an “obscenity.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the attack in her remarks to a group of Girl Scouts, who visited the State Department in honor of the first ever International Day of the Girl on October 10. “[Malala] was attacked and shot by extremists who don’t want girls to have an education and don’t want girls to speak for themselves and don’t want girls to become leaders, who are, for a variety of reasons, threatened by that kind of empowerment,” Clinton said.

The attack prompted anger from Parliament and Pakistan’s progressives. Media commentator Nadeem F. Paracha took to Twitter to derisively address the Taliban in the wake of the attack: “Come on, brothers, be REAL MEN. Kill a schoolgirl.” 


To see the 2009 NYT documentary, ‘Class Dismissed,’ featuring Malala Yousafzai, go here.


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