Fifteen women in the Senate expressed outrage today to Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf over the shooting of a 14-year-old activist for girls’ education by the Taliban.
Malala Yousafzai lives in Mingora, a town in the Swat district of Pakistan’s extremist North-West Frontier Province. Malala and two other girls were shot Oct. 9, and the schoolgirl who spoke out forcefully against Taliban oppression is now being treated at a hospital in Britain.
“All of us—and indeed the world—are horrified at the brazen nature of this attack, which was carried out by Taliban militants who targeted Malala simply because she advocated for and pursued an education for herself and other girls. Even more reprehensible is the Taliban’s promise to try to kill her again should she recover from her critical injuries. We applaud the fact that you and many Pakistani citizens have come out forcefully against these despicable extremists, whose cowardice is matched only by Malala’s unflinching bravery, and we hope that the Government of Pakistan can pursue and prosecute those responsible to the fullest letter of the law. We also honor the many activists in Pakistan and around the world who, like Malala, work day in and day out to promote open education for both girls and boys,” wrote Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dianne Feinstein (R-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
They stressed that they are all beneficiaries of an open education, such as that advocated by Malala for all Pakistani girls.
“The attack on Malala is a stark reminder that every day, women of all ages face great obstacles in their pursuit of basic human rights, including the pursuit of an education. Malala’s courage and determination to go to school in the face of grave danger to herself and her family make her an inspiring symbol for the millions of girls across the globe who are also desperate to get an education,” the senators wrote.
“We believe an attack against Malala represents an attack against all women across the world and must not be tolerated. We hope that the Government of Pakistan will continue to work to confront extremism and heinous violence against its own children. We urge you to ensure that the perpetrators of this violence are brought to justice quickly, and that you might also redouble your own efforts to safeguard and advance girls’ access to education and opportunities for them to reach their full potential as contributing and productive citizens. Countries that promote education for all their children have higher living standards and economic success for all their citizens.”
Pakistani police today detained relatives of a man suspected of shooting Malala, in hopes of reeling him in. The member of the Pakistani Taliban named Attaullah was previously arrested in 2009 on suspicion of militant activity but freed for lack of evidence.
Malala was shot in the head and neck after she got off her school bus to return home.