Thursday, October 11, 2012

Paying the Price for Women's Rights

October 11, 2012, 10:00 a.m. -- now with continuing updates on her medical condition Oct. 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 31

SPECIAL: Malala is being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. I've signed the petition; if you would like to join me, click here. About 150,000 have signed so far [Nov. 14].

And you might want to visit Malala's Facebook page.

Malala Yousafzai

Another brave young woman is in the news, Malala Yousafzai, living in northwestern Pakistan and advocating on behalf of girls seeking education. Editorial, "Malala Yousafzai’s Courage," New York Times, October 11, 2012, p. A30 ("If Pakistan has a future, it is embodied in Malala Yousafzai. Yet the Taliban so feared this 14-year-old girl that they tried to assassinate her. Her supposed offense? Her want of an education and her public advocation for it."). Here are links to her Web page and Facebook page.

The United Nations declared November 10 "Malala Day." Here is a photo of children celebrating in Karachi that day. For the video of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's announcement in support of Malala, click here.

[For medical updates [Oct. 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19] on her condition, see, Mushtaq Yusufzai, "Malala shifted to AFIC Rawalpindi in serious condition," The News (International) [Pakistan], October 12, 2012; "Malala's Condition Satisfactory: ISPR," The News (International) [Pakistan], October 14, 2012 ("The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Sunday [Oct. 14] termed Malala Yousafzai's condition 'satisfactory' and that it was witnessing a steady improvement. [She] was taken off the ventilator for some time and was later placed back on it. The . . . option to send her abroad for further treatment was being considered. . . . ISPR Maj Gen Asim Bajwa said that [she] . . . was now being administered a lower dose of sedatives. 'Movement has been witnessed in Malala's hands and legs which is a positive development,' Maj Gen Bajwa said.").

"Schoolgirl Wounded by Taliban Is Airlifted to Britain," New York Times, October 15, 2012 ("Malala . . . [has left] Rawalpindi, . . . in a military hospital, on an air ambulance sent from the United Arab Emirates. [She will] receive immediate treatment for her skull, which was fractured after a bullet passed through her head, as well as 'long-term rehabilitation including intensive neuro rehabilitation' . . . at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham . . . which has specialized in the treatment of troops wounded in Afghanistan . . .."); "2 questioned at U.K hospital treating Pakistani girl," USA Today, October 16, 2012 ("British police have questioned two people who tried to visit [Malala] . . . raising fears about her safety following pledges by the Taliban to make another attempt on her life. . . . Dr. Anders Cohen, chief of neurosurgery at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York [said] '. . . we don't know what part of the brain the bullet went through, whether it crossed the midline and hit any vessels, or whether the bullet passed through the right or left side of the brain.' [B]oth physicians say it is extremely unlikely that a full recovery can be made. They could only hope that the bullet took a 'lucky path' — going through a more 'silent,' or less active — part of the brain. 'You don't have a bullet go through your brain and have a full recovery,' [Dr. Jonathan] Fellus [chief scientific officer at the New Jersey-based International Brain Research Foundation] said.").

"Malala will need reconstructive surgery: hospital director," Dawn Newspaper, Urdu Edition, October 17, 2012 ("Malala Yousufzai is making progress in a British hospital, doctors said on Tuesday, as police turned away visitors claiming to be relatives. . . . [She] was in a stable condition on her first full day . . . [and the Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital medical director David Rosser said she] had had a 'comfortable night.' '“We are very pleased with the progress she’s made so far,' . . .. [E]very bit as strong as we’ve been led to believe. Malala will need reconstructive surgery and we have international experts in that field.' . . . 'Her response to treatment so far indicated that she could make a good recovery from her injuries,' the Queen Elizabeth Hospital said in a statement."). "Malala stable in UK hospital as support floods in," AFP/The Express Tribune/International Herald Tribune, October 18, 2012 ("Doctors said Malala Yousafzai spent a second comfortable night . . .. [S]he 'remained in a stable condition and continued to impress doctors by responding well to her care,' a hospital spokesman said.").

John F. Burns and Christine Hauser, "Pakistani Schoolgirl Shot by Taliban Is Showing Progress," New York Times, October 19, 2012 ("[Malala] has recovered to the extent that she is now able to stand with assistance and communicate in writing . . . Dr. David Rosser, the medical director of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, said . . . 'she is doing very well. In fact, she was standing with some help for the first time this morning when I went in to see her.'”) Alan Cowell, "Pakistani Activist, 15, Recovering at ‘Encouraging Speed,’ Father Says," New York Times, October 27, 2012, p. A9 ("Ms. Yousafzai’s father [Ziauddin Yousafzai] and mother, Toorpekai Yousafzai, arrived in Birmingham on Thursday [Oct. 22], accompanied by her two younger brothers, Atal Khan, 8, and Khushal Khan, 12. [T]he family was reunited . . . for the first time since Ms. Yousafzai was flown to Britain, 'there were tears in our eyes out of happiness,' her father told reporters. 'We all cried a little bit.' He added: 'It’s a miracle for us. She was in a very bad condition.' A week ago, a bulletin from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital [reported] 'She’s not out of the woods yet, but we are hopeful she will make a good recovery' . . ..")]

Dawn is a newspaper in Pakistan that I have found over the last few years to be one of the best sources of information not only about Pakistan, but also about Afghanistan. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis deplore the Taliban's effort to assassinate Malala. But some among its religious right have recently made an effort to compare that attempt to the American use of drones that end up killing innocent civilians. Dawn has risen to the occasion with an editorial today [Oct. 16] headlined "Skewed Narrative," Dawn Newspaper, Urdu Edition, October 16, 2012. Here is an excerpt: "Let's get one thing straight about the attack on Malala Yousufzai. It is not comparable to drone strikes . . . [or] other incidents the religious right might use to try to divert attention from the particular evil of this one. . . . [T]his incident was: a deliberate attack on a specific teenage girl in retaliation for her activism for girls’ education . . .. Drone strikes may be unacceptable in their current form and end up killing innocent children, but doing so is not their intent. . . . And yet moves are afoot to position these events as comparisons in an attempt to dampen the widespread recognition of the Malala incident for what it was — the targeting of an innocent girl by an outfit that does not believe in the most basic of human rights and is prepared to attack even children to promote its regressive ideas."

I used the word "another" in the opening paragraph not only because there are today, as there have been throughout the years, a great many young women and girls -- as well as men and boys, but primarily women -- who have often paid a heavy price, up to and including death, fighting for what are often even minimal rights for women.

But I also say "another" because of what I wrote earlier about a brave young woman who played a major role in the "Arab spring" in Egypt, Asmaa Mahfouz. "Asmaa Mahfouz: Democracy's Heroine," October 27, 2011. And see, "The Natural Superiority of Women; And Why Men Fail," September 11, 2012.

There's good news and bad news regarding the role of religion in women's rights -- one of the major civil rights challenges during my lifetime. The liberal, reformist, and moderate elements of many of the world's major religions view women's struggle as possessed of moral, ethical, and religious rights as well. Sadly, however, often in violation of their own sacred texts, many religions' more extreme elements -- including those in this country -- seek to find support for their suppression of women's rights from within their religion.

So it was in northwest Pakistan this week.

The balance of my blog entry this morning is simply a reproduction of yesterday's [Oct. 10] entry on a blog maintained by "Rosh," a UCL (University College London?) student: Lashings of Gingerale -- because she so well states my own thoughts there's little to be gained by my composing an equivalent.

Malala Yousafzai started her blog about being a girl trying to get an education in the Swat Valley when she was 11 years old. On Tuesday [Oct. 9] at the age of 14 she was shot in the head by the Taliban because she "promoted secularism."

She is currently in hospital, alive and recovering after surgery. This girl is the bravest girl I know because she stood up for education for girls. And do you know what makes this story even more disgusting? That she has to do this at all in 2012.

My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family.

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