07/12/2013 06:06 PM
Girl Rising: Malala Fires Up a New Generation
By SPIEGEL ONLINE Staff
Last fall Malala Yousafza, a 15-year-old blogger in Pakistan, was gunned down for demanding the right to an education. She has taken her message to the UN, and girls worldwide are fighting back against violence and oppression. A global movement is taking shape.
For Diya, the rebellion began in India on the day she sat at the police station, a shy 13-year-old girl, and was able to find words for the unspeakable: "He did something bad to me." She chose not to be silent though the man had said: "If you tell on me, I will kill your brother." She chose to testify.
She told the police about how she had left the house, a girl with barrettes in her hair clutching a metal bucket. Diya's parents had sent her out to fetch some water from the village faucet, which was only a few steps from her house. She was anxious to get back home quickly. It was her favorite time of the day, the few hours before going to sleep. Diya loved the stories she saw on TV when her family watched together in the evenings. She liked Bollywood star Salman Khan, especially his smile. That was in April.
Now it's May and Diya wants to learn now to break a man's nose. She wants to learn how to knock out a man, how to trample on his testicles and jam a key into his eye. She wants to learn how to kill a man.
Diya has been her name since that evening, when a man grabbed her in the village and dragged her into the courtyard of an empty house, and pressed his mouth against hers so violently that she couldn't even scream. It's a name she is supposed to hide behind. By law, no one is permitted to reveal the name of a rape victim. But Diya doesn't want to hide. She comes from a poor Dalit family, or "untouchables," the lowest rung in the Indian caste system. The man who took away her childhood was an alcoholic without a wife or a job. But he was from a higher caste, and he believed that Dalit girls could be used. It had always been that way in the past. But this time he was mistaken.
In the past, Diya's father probably wouldn't have urged her to tell the truth, and they probably wouldn't have gone to the police, either. But much had happened in the preceding months in India, and elsewhere.
A Children's Rights Movement?
All around the world there are stories like Diya's, stories that depict the world as a barbaric place and stories about children who have decided to fight back. There is the story of Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old blogger from Pakistan who paid for her love of learning with two bullets in her head, who survived and continues to fight for girls' education. There are the "wedding busters" in Bangladesh, young people who go into villages to protect children from forced marriages. And there are the Kenyan girls who refuse to submit to female genital mutilation, knowing full well that their refusal could destroy their families.
Western reactions to stories like these tend to slide between horror and apathy. In their book "Half the Sky," American authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn argue that the ordinary is often overlooked. "We journalists tend to be good at covering events that happen on a particular day, but we slip at covering events that happen every day, such as the quotidian cruelties inflicted on women and girls."
Women are disappearing. Development experts estimate that, for various reasons, there is a shortage of 60 to 100 million women in the world. Female fetuses are more likely to be aborted. Girls die of neglect, or as a result of complications from genital mutilation or domestic violence. Sometimes girls who are still children themselves die while giving birth. In fact, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among female teenagers in the developing world.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has focused on children's rights since leaving office, has presented a study on the issue, and he believes that something resembling a children's rights movement is emerging. Brown writes that, for the first time, it isn't adults but girls who see themselves as the leaders of their movement, girls who become involved in political battles or even ignite such conflicts. After the shooting of Malala in Pakistan, Brown wrote: "For one Malala shot and temporarily silenced, there are now thousands of younger Malalas ready to come forward who will not be silenced."
Malala Speaks at the UN
Today, Malala will give a speech at the United Nations. A UN petition for girls' education titled "I am Malala" is attracting attention around the world. A "Generation Malala" has come of age, and it includes girls and young women like Diya in India, Isadora in Brazil, Valentini in South Africa, Sina in Cambodia and Nahla in Egypt. They are part of a generation that is no longer willing to take for granted that being a woman can be life-threatening. Is it the beginning of a rebellion, or even a revolution?
India has changed radically in the past few months. After the ordeal of a young woman named Jyoti Singh Pandey, who was tortured and raped by six men on a bus and later died in a hospital, a new rage erupted over things that had long been commonplace. Suddenly newspapers were constantly writing about the suffering of India's daughters, and about the rapes of four- and five-year-old girls. Suddenly tens of thousands of women were taking to the streets all over India. In Delhi, government offices were inundated with women applying for a gun license. In the state of Bihar, women attacked a man who had allegedly raped his nine-year-old daughter, and shaved off his hair, eyebrows and moustache. There was even a lynching in a Mumbai slum, where four women killed a man whom they viewed as an offender when he emerged naked from his hut.
Indian women have resorted to vigilante justice, because they no longer believe that the men in law enforcement will protect them from other men.
Diya's Rebellion in India
Diya, who is growing up in this rough time, sits on a bed in a small house in Lucknow, the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh, her spindly legs hanging over the edge. She looks at the teenage girls who have come rushing into the room, members of a martial arts group called the "Red Brigade." They are wearing long, red shirts. Red is the color of danger and combat, they say.
They talk about the school principal who touched a girl's breasts, and the female classmate who was raped and never returned to school afterward. They talk about ways to defend themselves.
For two years the girls practiced fighting with words, listening to the advice of their leader, a 25-year-old woman they call "big sister." Big sister had told them to ask their parents questions like: Why does my brother get more food than me? Why does he get milk while I don't? Why is he allowed to continue going to school while I am not?
They have been learning kung fu since January, and Diya is now part of the group. Her father called the leader of the Red Brigade, thinking that perhaps the girls could somehow help his daughter.
The girls in the group stick together, even across caste barriers, which is almost unheard of in India. It helps make her new life more bearable. Diya's old life no longer suits her. Her family had intended to marry her off next year, at 14, which is still fairly common in India. But they stopped talking about marriage after Diya was raped. It will be difficult to convince a man to marry a girl who has been raped.
Diya's new life begins with her going back to school, like the other girls in the Red Brigade. The group wants to get her books and a school uniform, which she wouldn't be able to afford otherwise. The man who raped Diya on that evening in April tried to deprive her of her future. Now the girls of the Red Brigade are trying to help give her a different kind of future.
Isadora's Rebellion in Brazil
For Isadora, the rebellion began last summer, when her sister told her about a Scottish girl who had photographed her disgusting school meals and placed the photos on the Web for the whole world to see.
Isadora Faber, 14, is a girl in jeans, a T-shirt and red sneakers. She lives with her parents, her grandmother and her grandmother's poodle in a flat-roofed house in a middle-class neighborhood of Florianópolis. She grew up with the Internet and Facebook and is aware of what's happening around the world.
She knows about Jyoti in India, and of course she knows about Malala. When she read about Malala being shot on Facebook, she wrote in her blog: "I would never have imagined that it would come to this point." And then she kept going.
Today her blog, Diário de Classe, or "Class Diary," numbers some 600,000 readers and has become a significant political force in Brazil. Isadora is as hated as she is admired. She has even received death threats.
Taking on the School System
Brazil is an emerging nation, a rising economic power where things seemed to be in order, but in fact were not. Isadora is child of globalization who loves the band Nirvana and watches "CSI: Miami" on TV. When she looks out at the world and compares it with Brazil, she doesn't like what she sees. In fact, the protests in Brazil's streets attest to the fact that more and more young people are as dissatisfied as she is.
The country is spending at least €30 billion ($39 billion) on the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, even as public schools are falling apart. Those who have the means send their children to private schools. Isadora, who attends a public school, the only one in her neighborhood, used her mobile phone to record its many deficiencies: the broken door to the girls' bathroom; the cables from a broken fan, which are hanging openly from the ceil; the broken windows in a classroom; the run-down athletic facilities, which should have been painted long ago (the painter was paid but never showed up); the chaotic conditions during math class, where students jumped across the benches while the teacher stood back and did nothing.
Isadora started Diário de Classe on July 11, 2012. After three weeks, she already had 3,000 readers. Many sent photos and accounts from their own schools, images of ruined, run-down and flooded buildings, or fights and vandalism in the classroom, and of weeping and shouting teachers. The local newspapers reported on Isadora, and television crews turned up outside her school. The principal conceded that there were some deficiencies.
Law Suits and Death Threats
After two months, Isadora had 30,000 readers, and her blog featured heated discussions about serious problems within Brazil's education system, provoking anger among the objects of the criticism. Teachers complained that they were being unjustly attacked. One teacher filed a libel complaint. Other students threatened Isadora.
Four weeks later, unknown assailants threw rocks at the wall of her parents' house. Her grandmother was hit in the forehead and required stitches, but the culprits escaped without being recognized. In February, someone using a false name sent her a death threat on Facebook: "Keep your eyes open when you leave the house." She filed a complaint and the police investigated the incident.
She set a major movement into motion, something seemingly much too big for a girl of 14. She is a child of the digital modern age who is using the power of the media to stage the sort of rebellion that didn't exist in the past.
One of the reasons girls like Isadora are so special is that they are so young. That's why their message is passed on, from the local to the national to the international media. The story of Isadora Faber, for example, has already reached the United States and Europe. The Financial Times named her as one of the 25 most influential people in Brazil.
Valentini's Rebellion in South Africa
For Valentini, the rebellion began when she was cleaning a hotel room and suddenly came face-to-face with Lindiwe Mazibuko. Mazibuko is the opposition leader of the South African parliament, a woman from a township who made it to the top and is known for her skillful opposition to the male-dominated government. Valentini had cut her picture out of newspapers, because the politician was her most important role model, next to US First Lady Michelle Obama. They were two distant, unreal idols, the kinds of people the child of farm workers couldn't hope to meet.
But suddenly her role model was standing in front of her. She was staying in the hotel to attend a wedding, and she started asking Valentini questions: How old are you? What are your concerns? What are your dreams?
Valentini is 17, a girl in a brown-and-yellow school uniform who lives on an apple plantation in South Africa's largest fruit-growing region, which produces Pink Lady apples for export to Europe. The Monteith Farm belongs to a wealthy white farmer. Valentini's parents, and everyone else in the area, work for him. There are few alternatives in South Africa for so-called "coloureds," or mixed-raced individuals like Valentini Valentine and her family.
Some time last year, during the harvest, she was walking to the bus in the morning, along the rows of fruit trees, and watching as female apple pickers sorted apples. She thought to herself: I don't want to live like they do. Not like those day laborers, slaving away for the boss and raped by their husbands, who drink too much. Not like those women, who know nothing other than everyday life on the farm, who are poor and kept uneducated, and who become resigned to their fate at an early age.
From the Farm to the Classroom
The farm is like a trap, she says, but many don't even realize it, or at least not early enough. Why did she realize it? Perhaps because she has a mother who worked her way up to an office job and tells her daughter, "Go your own way!" Or because she has a young, dedicated teacher (a rarity among the many apathetic educators) who tries to build the girls' self-esteem, and tells them: Believe in yourselves!
Teachers like that are having an impact, as more and more girls go to school, in South Africa and around the world. Education creates a thirst for more education. And education brings with it the knowledge that things don't have to be the way they are.
Last summer, when she was feeling especially dissatisfied, she heard about a meeting of female farm workers and decided to go. For the first time, she encountered rebellious girls who had the courage to have an opinion and be vocal. The girls asked themselves: Why is life so hard? How can we change that? It feels good, she says, this new feeling of not being alone. This is our rebellion, she says.
Valentini now makes public appearances where, glowing with pride, she talks about the plight in education to groups of 200 girls. The girls list their demands, dance, sing old anti-Apartheid songs and clench their fists.
The Search for Universal Values
Education, as the globalization of knowledge, conveys new ideas. It conveys news about countries where women are the heads of companies, and about other countries where women are not even allowed to drive cars. There are countless ideas about what the life of a woman should be like -- so how can one be pushed aside for another? Can universal values exist?
The hope that they can has been around since the Enlightenment. In 1791, French feminist Olympe de Gouges wrote a "Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen" in response to the "human and civil rights" declared in the French Revolution. In it, de Gouges wrote: "The woman is born free and remains equal to man in rights. Women have the right to mount the scaffold; they must also have the right to mount the speaker's rostrum…"
Women's rights have been codified since 1948, when the United Nations published its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is meant to apply to everyone, "without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex." It is not a treaty that is binding under international law, but merely a guideline, and yet it is one that girls learn about in school.
'That Sort of Thing Must Not Happen'
Or at least in a good school. Many schools in South Africa are not good, including, in Valentini's opinion, the school she attends. Valentini calls herself and her comrades-in-arms "Survivors," people who are surviving a situation that many see as hopeless.
She does have opportunities, better opportunities than her mother, her grandmother or her great-grandmother had. She has the means to network with her female friends, through text messaging or Mxit, a social network used by many young people in Africa. She knows more than they did. She is a part of the world, much more so than her mother and her grandmother were.
And yet she has a lingering fear. Valentini talks about a girl she once knew, who became pregnant when she was 12. But she doesn't say what happened to the girl. "That sort of thing must not happen. It simply must not happen."
A 12-year-old girl usually can't defend herself. No matter how determined she is, she simply lacks the necessary physical strength.
Sina Vann's Rebellion in Cambodia
For Sina Vann, the rebellion began when she was freed, at 15, after three years of slavery. Now she walks around at night in search of herself.
Or rather, she searches for the girl she once was, for srey kouc, or "broken women," as the Cambodians call their prostitutes. "Because things can't stay the way they are," she says through an interpreter. And because she wants to do something about the fact that girls, the kind she once was, are sold in Cambodia every day and forced into prostitution.
The broken women are easy to find. There are thousands of them in the capital city of Phnom Penh. As Sina approaches, they step from the shadows of doorways and dark parking lots, wearing high heels, always smiling the famous, enigmatic smile of the Khmer.
You have to look these women in the eye, says Sina, "because their eyes aren't smiling." The Tuol Kork neighborhood, where Sina herself was once trapped, is known as a streetwalkers' district for construction workers, truck drivers and craftsmen, where sex can be had for $3, and where the brothels are simple wooden huts with a karaoke bar in front, as camouflage. Sina hands out condoms and bars of soap, and she gives the woman pieces of paper with the contact information for the foundation that liberated her from prostitution, the Somaly Mam Foundation.
The Power of Commerce
Somaly Mam, who escaped a life of sex slavery, established the foundation and serves as a bridge to the Western world. There are photos showing her together with actress Meg Ryan, fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg and singer Queen Latifah.
There are plenty of advocates for the girls, people who lend their names, faces and sometimes their presence to the cause. At glamorous conferences like the "Women in the World Summit," for example, celebrities like Chelsea Clinton, Meryl Streep and Angelina Jolie appear by the dozen to campaign on behalf of the oppressed. A growing number of organizations, like Girls not Brides, Girl Upand Educate Girls (which funded the recent documentary "Girl Rising"), are specifically addressing girls' rights.
For authors Kristof and WuDunn, who have long supported Somaly Mam's foundation, this is what the issue boils down to: "In the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery. In the twentieth century, it was the battle against totalitarianism. We believe that in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality around the world."
Not everyone thinks in such moral terms. For modern capitalism, liberating women is a prerequisite for economic modernization.
Economists at the World Bank believe that "investing in girls is both smart economics and the right thing to do." The American Center for Injury Prevention and Control coldly calculates that domestic violence causes more than $4 billion in medical costs. In a 2008 report, Goldman Sachs concluded: "Gender inequality hurts economic growth."
As disconcertingly mercantile as this sounds, it still helps, because it raises awareness, not to mention money.
It helps Sina Vann and her organization. It enables her to tell the girls about the foundation's shelters, and to tell them that they will be safe there, can learn to read and write, be trained to become a seamstress or a beautician, and that they'll have enough to eat.
Kidnapped by Human Traffickers
Sina Vann, the young woman who went from being a sex slave to a rebel, was kidnapped 12 years ago in her native Vietnam. Human traffickers smuggled her across the border to Cambodia, where Vietnamese women are in demand because of their light complexion -- the whiter the skin, the higher the price.
She woke up on a bed in Phnom Penh, drugged, naked and bleeding. Her virginity had been sold to a sex tourist for a few hundred dollars. She doesn't know where he was from. Then she was locked up, bound and beaten. She was sold as a virgin four or five more times, to Cambodian customers who didn't notice that her vagina had just been sewn shut -- a common practice to ensure that the women bleed. She was tortured with electroshocks when she refused to service customers. The advantage of electroshocks is that they produce no visible damage that would reduce a girl's value. She was tormented, dispossessed, dehumanized.
She escaped during a police raid initiated by Somaly Mam. Sina was given a place to live, hope and an education, and she later joined the struggle alongside the woman who had rescued her. She is 29 today and working on the streets on behalf of the foundation.
"Are you here voluntarily?" Sina asks a girl with sleepy eyes. The girl nods. "Are they giving you drugs? Do they hit you?" When she hears about especially serious cases during these conversations, cases of torture or of minors or even small children, some only three years old, being sold into prostitution, she notifies the police. If she's lucky, they'll raid a brothel.
Sina and her girls have also started targeting men, potential johns. They address them directly and explain what is actually going on. Girls lecturing men: a true revolution.
Nahla's Rebellion in Egypt
For Nahla, the rebellion began in Tahrir Square, and that's where it continues, often under extremely dangerous circumstances -- as on Jan. 25, 2013, the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution. Tens of thousands had congregated on the square, many of whom wanted to fight back against the revolution, especially the role women had in it.
Perhaps they were plainclothes policemen or enraged civilians. In any case, they were strangers who attacked the women, who groped and molested them. Later on, there were reports of rapes. Nahla, 24, was one of the youngest women on the square. Men put their hands in her pants, tugged at her shirt and pushed her onto the ground. Nahla Enany and her mother were surrounded by men. "They were choking us. It was hell."
Nahla gets onto a subway train, talking about the hell she experienced on that January day, and yet she is headed back to Tahrir Square. She changed her clothes before leaving her apartment, choosing black to be less conspicuous: black tracksuit pants, a black T-shirt and sneakers. Still, people stare at her on the train, because she is the only passenger in the women's car wearing neither a headscarf nor a niqab, her shoulder-length, dark-brown hair out in the open. And they stare at her on Tahrir Square because her T-shirt is skintight and barely covers her shoulders.
Nahla quickly walks across the square, ignoring the looks of the older men sitting on low walls in the heat. She ignores the groups of young men who jump around her, grabbing at her and ogling her. She no longer notices the looks, she says, and she no longer hears the things they shout after her.
The Mothers and Daughters of Tahrir
Nahla approaches three older women. One of them, also in black, with a bob haircut and gold jewelry, is her mother, attending one of the many demonstrations that will culminate in the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi.
Since the beginning of the Egyptian revolution, the mother and daughter are at almost every demonstration, part of the protests fighting for democratic rights, for women and for everyone. Men and women, side by side -- it was revolutionary.
And then came the counter-revolution. One reason the Muslim Brotherhood was elected is that they could depend on the traditional, patriarchal majority in the country, and on the old way of thinking, which holds that honorable women have no business being in the streets, and when they are, only behind a veil. It's the same philosophy that tells men they can punish women if they don't abide by the rules, that disobedient women deserve to be groped, harassed and debased.
Life became dangerous for Egypt's women, in the streets, on the subway and, most of all, at demonstrations. There were no reports of abuses during the 18 days of the revolution. But after that, things became even worse than before. According to a recent UN study, 99.3 percent of Egyptian women now say that they have been sexually harassed.
Men as Monsters, Men as Protectors
It is, of course, men who grope, expose and debase the women on Tahrir Square.
It is men who, as teachers, try to keep girls like Valentini in their place. "Do you think you can explain the world to us?" they ask when she contradicts them.
It is men who abduct girls like Sina Vann in Cambodia -- and men who use them for their pleasure. About 70 percent of Cambodian men experience sex for the first time with a prostitute, and 5 percent of Cambodian men admit that they have been involved in at least one gang rape.
It sounds as if men were simply monsters, but it isn't that simple. It isn't the case, of course, that men are always the enemies and women are always advocates of the girls.
There are men who try to protect women on Tahrir Square and bring them to safety. There are men in India who take to the streets to express their rage over crimes against girls. There are men like Malala's father, who has encouraged his child. And there are men who view their daughters, sisters and wives as valuable human beings.
Women of the Patriarchy
There are also women who are responsible for destroying the lives of girls. In Cambodia, there are women who sell their daughters to brothels in the city as if they were livestock. There are women in Africa who subject their daughters to genital mutilation. And there are women all over the world who bully their daughters into forced marriages and, when a daughter flees from a violent husband, often drive them back into his arms.
There are many reasons why a mother might become a threat to their daughter. She does it because she has been brutalized or demoralized by poverty, or because she thinks that, in a brother, a girl can at least earn some money.
In societies in which a single woman is considered worthless, and where marriage is the only option, mothers believe that they are doing their daughters a favor by pushing them into forced marriages. It can be difficult for a woman to abandon brutal practices, especially when she thinks: I've gone through all of this. If I admit that it doesn't have to be this way, I will have thrown away my own life.
Egyptian Women Speak Out
It is especially difficult for Muslim women to overcome tradition, as Nahla knows all too well. She attended the American University in Cairo, and she works for a company and earns her own salary, and yet she isn't allowed to live alone and has to be home by 10:30 p.m., as required by her father.
Nahla continues to demonstrate and blog about the plight of Egyptian women. They are publicizing their complaints, on television and on the Internet, and they are creating networks and aid projects. The women have had the courage to take to the streets to demand new policies and a new society, and the world knows what they are doing. There was, for instance, the "girl in the blue bra," as she became known, whose harrowing ordeal was captured on video and broadcast to the rest of the world. A dozen soldiers ripped the black abaja from her body on Tahrir Square, exposing, mistreating and beating her nearly to death.
The protesters remember her for her courage and the conservatives for her debauchery. "What business did she have going to Tahrir Square?" they ask. In a recent study by the Pew Research Center, Muslims in various countries were surveyed about their views. Only about half of Egyptians -- but more than 80 percent of Tunisians and Moroccans -- said that it should be up to a woman to decide whether she should wear a headscarf. Three-quarters of Tunisians and Moroccans felt that a woman should be allowed to get a divorce, while only 22 percent of Egyptians agreed. In all three countries, about 90 percent of the men and women surveyed said that a woman should obey her husband.
Nahla says that she can't imagine being in an ordinary Egyptian marriage. She still remembers the day when she, as a child, pointed to her mother's cheek and thought she had a piece of candy in her mouth. But that wasn't the cause of the swelling. After that, there were many other occasions when her father hit her mother, her siblings and Nahla herself.
Her father, 65-year-old Nader Enany, says: "Egypt has other problems than the rights of women."
He is leaning back in a large armchair in the family living room. Enany fought against former President Anwar Sadat in the 1970s and was in prison several times. He made a lot of money exporting textiles, but those days are long gone, and now he is hard-pressed to pay the tuition for his son's private university. His daughter's education is unimportant to him, although he has at least tolerated it.
He tolerates the political involvement of his wife and daughter, but he doesn't explain why. Is he at odds with himself? Or does he tolerate their behavior because he is helpless? Has he learned anything? If so, he doesn't say what. After a long pause, he says: "Egypt has a different mentality. Egypt has religion." How does he feel about his daughter's ideas? "I don't know anything about her ideas," he says.
Nahla's ideas have ensured that she keeps on going -- that she has been out on the streets again during the unrest of the past week. She has been in Tahrir and at the presidential palace, to demonstrate against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. When the head of the army announced Morsi's overthrow on Wednesday evening, the cheering was so loud that she could hardly understand him.
Girl Power Goes Digital
It is a new rebellion, with new tools: mobile phones, the Internet and the global public. The goal has existed for a long time and remains a utopia: that a woman be allowed to make her own decisions about her body and her mind, and that she can learn what she wishes and love whom she pleases.
What is new is that not just women, but girls, too, are now fighting for space on the global stage. These girls dare to make plans, to desire a different world, and to believe that true change is possible.
The belief in modern capitalism -- the belief that the social modernization they want will bring about economic modernization -- offers them their best chance.
Their revolution can be a quiet one, like Sina's reeducation of men. It can be digital, like what Isadora achieves with her blog. It can be loud, like the revolution of girls like Diya, Valentini and Nahla -- one that can be heard in the streets.
What they need to make their rebellion a success are role models, like the ones Valentini had in South Africa, and modern tools, like the ones Isadora uses in Brazil. They need solidarity, the way Diya experienced it in India, and they need a historic moment that allows traditional roles to fade, as with Nahla in Egypt. And sometimes they just need someone to step in. Without help, Sina in Cambodia would still be a sex slave.
Sina Vann says that she wants to keep doing what she does, because there are so many broken women.
Valentini says that she eventually wants to live in the countryside and be a social worker.
Isadora wants to be a journalist, so she can "know the truth," as she puts it.
Nahla says she would like to study abroad.
Diya says she would like to continue going to school and eventually become a police officer. Then the female rape victims will come to her, and she will help them.
BY JENS GLÜSING, BARTHOLOMÄUS GRILL, GUIDO MINGELS, FRIEDERIKE SCHRÖTER, SANDRA SCHULZ, BARBARA SUPP
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
Malala delivers defiant riposte to Taliban militants as UN hails 'our hero'
'They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed,' says Malala, 16, at UN to push campaign for girls' education
Ed Pilkington in New York
The Guardian, Friday 12 July 2013 17.44 BST
When the Taliban sent a gunman to shoot Malala Yousafzai last October as she rode home on a bus after school, they made clear their intention: to silence the teenager and kill off her campaign for girls' education.
Nine months and countless surgical interventions later, she stood up at the United Nations on her 16th birthday on Friday to deliver a defiant riposte. "They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed," she said.
As 16th birthdays go, it was among the more unusual. Instead of blowing out candles on a cake, Malala sat in one of the United Nation's main council chambers in the central seat usually reserved for world leaders.
She listened quietly as Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, described her as "our hero, our champion"; and as the former British prime minister and now UN education envoy, Gordon Brown, uttered what he called "the words the Taliban never wanted her to hear: happy 16th birthday, Malala".
The event, dubbed Malala Day, was the culmination of an extraordinary four years for the girl from Mingora, in the troubled Swat valley of Pakistan. She was thrust into the public glare after she wrote a pseudonymous but later celebrated blog for the BBC Urdu service describing her experiences struggling to get an education under the rising power of Taliban militants.
By 11 she was showing exceptional determination, calling personally on the US special representative to Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, to use his influence to combat the Taliban's drive against education for girls. By 14, she was on the radar of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who put her forward for the international children's peace prize, and by 15 she became the youngest Nobel peace prize nominee in history.
But such dizzying global attention came at a price. Death threats followed her growing recognition, and on 9 October 2012, following a meeting of Pakistani Taliban leaders, the gunman was dispatched to remove what they called the "symbol of infidels and obscenity".
Multiple operations in Pakistan and the UK followed the attack on the bus, including the fitting of a titanium plate on her left forehead, and a cochlear implant to restore her hearing. She now lives with her family in Birmingham and does what the Taliban tried to stop her doing: goes to school every day. "I am not against anyone," she said in the UN chamber, having taken this day out from the classroom. "Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group."
Malala responded to the violence of the Taliban with her own countervailing force: words against bullets. "I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him."
She spoke confidently, with only an injured eye and a slightly drooping left side of her face to hint at such fresh traumas. There was one other unstated allusion to the horror of her past: she wore a white shawl belonging to a woman who was also targeted by extremists but who, unlike Malala, did not survive to tell the tale: Benazir Bhutto.
"The extremists are afraid of books and pens," the teenager continued. "The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them."
She cited last month's attack on a hospital in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan, and killings of female teachers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. "That is why they are blasting schools every day – because they were and they are afraid of change, afraid of the equality that we will bring to our society."
And she gave her own opposing interpretation of Islam to the Taliban's. "They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would send girls to the hell just because of going to school. The terrorists are misusing the name of Islam and Pashtun society for their own personal benefits. Islam is a religion of peace, humanity and brotherhood. Islam says that it is not only each child's right to get education, rather it is their duty and responsibility."
Such ability to articulate what normally remains unarticulated – to give voice to young people normally silenced – has generated its own response. The "stand with Malala" petition, calling for education for the 57m children around the world who do not go to school, has attracted more than 4m signatures – more than a million having been added in the past few days.
At the start of her speech, Malala said: "I don't know where to begin my speech. I don't know what people would be expecting me to say."
She need not have worried.
Malala Yousafzai: 'Our books and our pens are the most powerful weapons'
Malala delivered this address on education to the United Nations Youth Assembly on 'Malala Day', her 16th birthday
guardian.co.uk, Friday 12 July 2013 17.15 BST
This is a transcription of the speech that Malala Yousafzai gave to the United Nations on 12 July 2013, the date of her 16th birthday and "Malala Day" at the UN.
In the name of God, the most beneficent, the most merciful.
Honorable UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon, respected president of the General Assembly Vuk Jeremic, honorable UN envoy for global education Mr Gordon Brown, respected elders and my dear brothers and sisters: Assalamu alaikum.
Today is it an honor for me to be speaking again after a long time. Being here with such honorable people is a great moment in my life and it is an honor for me that today I am wearing a shawl of the late Benazir Bhutto. I don't know where to begin my speech. I don't know what people would be expecting me to say, but first of all thank you to God for whom we all are equal and thank you to every person who has prayed for my fast recovery and new life. I cannot believe how much love people have shown me. I have received thousands of good wish cards and gifts from all over the world. Thank you to all of them. Thank you to the children whose innocent words encouraged me. Thank you to my elders whose prayers strengthened me. I would like to thank my nurses, doctors and the staff of the hospitals in Pakistan and the UK and the UAE government who have helped me to get better and recover my strength.
I fully support UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his Global Education First Initiative and the work of UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown and the respectful president of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremic. I thank them for the leadership they continue to give. They continue to inspire all of us to action. Dear brothers and sisters, do remember one thing: Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.
There are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for their rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goal of peace, education and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them. So here I stand. So here I stand, one girl, among many. I speak not for myself, but so those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights. Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated.
Dear friends, on 9 October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends, too. They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.
I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. And my dreams are the same. Dear sisters and brothers, I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I am here to speak for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there was a gun in my hand and he was standing in front of me, I would not shoot him. This is the compassion I have learned from Mohammed, the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This the legacy of change I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learned from Gandhi, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learned from my father and from my mother. This is what my soul is telling me: be peaceful and love everyone.
Dear sisters and brothers, we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns. The wise saying, "The pen is mightier than the sword." It is true. The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them. This is why they killed 14 innocent students in the recent attack in Quetta. And that is why they kill female teachers. That is why they are blasting schools every day because they were and they are afraid of change and equality that we will bring to our society. And I remember that there was a boy in our school who was asked by a journalist why are the Taliban against education? He answered very simply by pointing to his book, he said, "a Talib doesn't know what is written inside this book."
They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would point guns at people's heads just for going to school. These terrorists are misusing the name of Islam for their own personal benefit. Pakistan is a peace loving, democratic country. Pashtuns want education for their daughters and sons. Islam is a religion of peace, humanity and brotherhood. It is the duty and responsibility to get education for each child, that is what it says. Peace is a necessity for education. In many parts of the world, especially Pakistan and Afghanistan, terrorism, war and conflicts stop children from going to schools. We are really tired of these wars. Women and children are suffering in many ways in many parts of the world.
In India, innocent and poor children are victims of child labor. Many schools have been destroyed in Nigeria. People in Afghanistan have been affected by extremism. Young girls have to do domestic child labor and are forced to get married at an early age. Poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems, faced by both men and women.
Today I am focusing on women's rights and girls' education because they are suffering the most. There was a time when women activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But this time we will do it by ourselves. I am not telling men to step away from speaking for women's rights, but I am focusing on women to be independent and fight for themselves. So dear sisters and brothers, now it's time to speak up. So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favor of peace and prosperity. We call upon the world leaders that all of these deals must protect women and children's rights. A deal that goes against the rights of women is unacceptable.
We call upon all governments to ensure free, compulsory education all over the world for every child. We call upon all the governments to fight against terrorism and violence. To protect children from brutality and harm. We call upon the developed nations to support the expansion of education opportunities for girls in the developing world. We call upon all communities to be tolerant, to reject prejudice based on caste, creed, sect, color, religion or agenda to ensure freedom and equality for women so they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave, to embrace the strength within themselves and realize their full potential.
Dear brothers and sisters, we want schools and education for every child's bright future. We will continue our journey to our destination of peace and education. No one can stop us. We will speak up for our rights and we will bring change to our voice. We believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the whole world because we ware all together, united for the cause of education. And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.
Dear brothers and sisters, we must not forget that millions of people are suffering from poverty and injustice and ignorance. We must not forget that millions of children are out of their schools. We must not forget that our sisters and brothers are waiting for a bright, peaceful future.
So let us wage, so let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first. Thank you.
Malala Yousafzai and girls' access to education – get the data
How big is the gender gap at schools around the world? How has the picture changed in recent years?
Malala Yousafzai – the young campaigner who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in Pakistan last October – has drawn the world's attention to the fight for girls' access to education.
On Friday, she marks her 16th birthday by delivering a speech at the UN, and a petition calling on the general assembly "to fund new teachers, schools, books and recommit to getting every girl and boy in school by December 2015".
Globally, more children are in primary school than ever before. Yet an estimated 57 million remain out of school, and gender disparities are large in many countries. How big is the gender gap in schools around the world? How has the picture changed in recent years?
The UN uses a gender parity index (GPI), comparing girls' gross enrollment rates to those of boys, to track progress towards the millennium development goal (MDG) target to achieve parity in primary and secondary education by 2015. A GPI lower than 1.0 signifies more boys in school than girls, with scores above 1.0 reflecting more girls than boys.
At the global level, the MDG target on parity at primary school has already been met. Estimates of global progress can mask stark differences at the country or regional level, however. Today, the gender gap in primary education is concentrated in a much smaller group of countries. The visualisation above shows how the picture has changed since the 1970s.
In Pakistan, there are an estimated 82 girls for every 100 boys at primary school. While still far from parity, this reflects significant progress since 1990, when there were only 52 girls for every 100 boys, and even more since the early 1970s, when estimates suggest boys outnumbered girls by almost three to one. The table below compares Pakistan's progress towards gender parity at primary school with four nearby countries – Afghanistan, Iran, India and Tajikistan.
Gender disparities at primary school
Pakistan and nearby countries. Download the full data below.
Country 1975 1985 1995 2005 2010
The UN considers a gender parity index (GPI) value of between 0.97 and 1.03 as the achievement of gender parity. A GPI below 1.0 signifies more boys at school than girls. A GPI above 1.0 reflects the opposite.
Pakistan 0.321 0.357 0.765 0.755
Afghanistan 0.148 0.464 0.368 0.328 0.506
Iran 0.585 0.701 0.839 0.964 0.963
India 0.464 0.642 0.822 0.918
Tajikistan 0.831 0.866
At the secondary school level, less than 40% of countries have met the MDG target on gender parity. The remaining 60% are roughly split between those where boys outnumber girls and others where girls outnumber boys.
In higher education, the global gender gap is significant – but at this level, women outnumber men. In 2011, there were 108 women studying at this level for every 100 men.
Men outnumbered women in higher education until the late 1990s, when the world reached parity. Since 2004, however, the number of women in post-secondary school globally has exceeded that of men, with the gap steadily growing. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where the ratio of women to men studying at this level has dropped – from 66 women for every 100 men in 2000 to 61 in 2011.
Last month, the UN warned that progress on reducing the number of children out of school has ground to a "virtual standstill". Between 2008 and 2011, the number of out-of-school children of primary age fell by only 3 million.
"If this rate of change continues over the next few years, the world will still be far from the goal of UPE [universal primary education] in 2015," warned a report from Unesco and the Education for All campaign, which pointed to declining donor support for education.
International aid for basic education dropped 6% between 2010 and 2011, with six of the world's top 10 donors – Canada, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and the US – cutting spending. Aid to secondary education declined by 11% between 2010 and 2011.