By Madison Pollard
LONDON, England – There was public outrage when the story broke that the Taliban had stopped a bus in Swat, Pakistan, and shot a teenage girl in the head.Further outrage ensued when it was revealed that she was targeted because she believed that girls should have the right to an education. Malala Yousafzai is a 14-year-old Pakistani, known for her political activism. When the Taliban seized control of the Swat Valley in 2008, she protested the destruction of girls’ schools and the outright denial of any education for women.
Malala was transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham on Monday, where she is said to be in stable condition, and making a slow, but steady recovery. She has been lauded by the press and public alike. Angelina Jolie has ‘told her children about the bravery of Malala,’ and countless editorials have named her a hero, and an inspiration to an entire generation of women.
Malala Yousafzai official Facebook photo
Malala Yousafzai in an undated photo
But, truthfully, what surprised me most about the shooting was the public’s reaction. How can we be surprised? She was attacked by the Taliban, dangerous Islamic extremists. These are the kinds of people who will put a woman to death if she drives.
I don’t want my position to be misinterpreted. I have nothing against organised religion, or Islam. It’s when breaking religious rules becomes a crime against the state, and not against your faith or family, that these situations arise.
Education should be a right, not a privilege. Freedom to move from place to place without the fear of death is a fundamental human right, not a privilege.
How can it be that in the UK, I can run for parliament, drive, drink, and study and do almost anything I want, but some Pakistani women have none of these rights? They can’t go to a soccer match, be in the company of any man who is not a close relative, or even get a basic education.
And our governments condone this, by their refusal to intervene on behalf of these women.
I believe Malala is a hero, and I hope she does inspire a generation of women. Maybe this could be the generation that will bring change. I just hope no more teenagers are gunned down before that happens.