Over 150 schoolgirls in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul fell sick after smelling gas and drinking water, and are now being examined for possible poisoning, hospital officials said on Wednesday (May 1).
While instances of suspected poisoning are sometimes found to be false alarms, there have been numerous substantiated cases of mass poisonings of schoolgirls by elements of Afghanistan’s ultra-conservative society that are opposed to female education.
Hospital officials said the girls appeared to become ill after smelling some kind of gas and drinking water at the Sultan Razia school in Kabul.
“We have received around 150 schoolgirls to the hospital; around ten of these girls are in critical condition and are under treatment,” said Doctor Amin, head of the Kabul hospital where the suspected poisoned victims were taken.
”There was a bad smell in our class, our teacher advised us to open windows, when we opened windows, students started yelling and then we all become unconscious. Later we were taken to hospital,” said Sameera, one of the schoolgirls having treatment at the hospital.
Since the 2001 ousting of the Taliban, which banned education for women and girls, females have returned to schools, especially in Kabul.
But periodic attacks against female students, their teachers and their school buildings, continue.
Afghan women have won back basic rights in education, voting and employment since 2001, but fears are growing that such gains could be traded away as Western forces prepare to leave and the Afghan government seeks peace talks with the Taliban.