The Middle East and North Africa.
Eleventh of March, 2003
UNESCO Institute of Statistics-
“As Female Education rises, fertility and population grows, while infant and child mortality fall, and family health improves.”
First Militant, then Government, now Insurgency.
“The face of a woman is a source of corruption for men not related to them.”
Women should not be educated beyond the age of eight, and until eight may only be permitted to study the Qur’an.
It’s easy to externalise, turn blind eyes to this gender apartheid,
As it has become so-called.
When schools are underground, stealth bound and could incur a public death,
And women still beg for their rights with their last breath,
We cannot ignore it.
Because though we call ourselves one Human Race,
And measure ourselves by one shared pace,
We still insist on divisions, incisions between every difference.
But these girls have the same rights-
The right to education,
To mental stimulation,
The right to not fear boarding a bus,
Revealing your face
In the Warzone of Gender.
Where learning to question your situation is a crime.
Where girls have to be standing in front of weapons held by full-grown men
Who load a barrel and throw stones in the name of a God who would turn away in shame
Pulling a trigger for the right to keep eyes pleading and voices out of sight
These Mothers and daughters and sisters and wives, who're
And you've heard of little Malala, standing, outstanding, grounded;
Her right to think, to be,
to be free,
Targeted for her blogs, her prize, her documentary.
I am Malala, she said,
And then three shots are fired,
One at her head - he hesitated.
And what if she’d died?
Lying where other girls lie, victims of the Education War?
(two words that have never been put together before)
What if she hadn’t survived?
Another number, statistic, victim of ballistics, sadistics who think its fine
For little girls to lie
In their own blood
Until the light goes out behind those eyes
That were made for reading
Absorbing the world,
Pouring over books.
But when the MENA reports say that nearly half of their girls,
fifteen to twenty four
Have never seen inside a classroom before
The brave laying shot on school bus floors,
The scared married to men whose children they cannot bore
because their bodies are too immature to have reached puberty.
So I ask,
Why don’t you tell me
Where the hell is their equality?