Iran has been rocked by a series of girls being poisoned in Iran at girls’ schools, according to a senior health official who spoke to the semi-official Fars news agency. “Certain individuals sought the closure of all schools, especially girls’ schools,” said Younes Panahi, the Iranian deputy health minister. The fact that hundreds have been poised in Iran has led to dozens of girls needing hospital treatment.
At least 14 schools have been hit in four cities, including the north-western city of Ardebil, the capital Tehran and the western city of Borujerd, newspaper Etemad reported. The authorities have been criticised for their response to protests against the leadership that have emerged in the wake of the poisoning, including the execution of four protesters.
The use of toxic chemicals to harm children represents a flagrant violation of human rights and is expected to be widely condemned by human rights groups and governments. The Iranian government has come under fire for its handling of the situation, with many accusing it of failing to protect its citizens.
The protests that erupted in Iran last week after the poisoning of girls at schools have been met with a brutal crackdown by the authorities. Thousands of people have been arrested so far in the Mahsa Amini protests and detained for taking part in demonstrations, and more than 500 people have been killed by security forces, according to rights groups.
Is this the first time girls schools have been poisoned in Iran?
The use of girls being poisoned in Iran to target schools and children is not a new phenomenon in Iran. Similar incidents have been reported in the past, with girls’ schools being targeted in particular. This latest wave of poisonings, however, is set to spark renewed outrage and calls for action to be taken to prevent such attacks from happening again.
The situation in Iran is made even more concerning by the fact that it comes at a time when girls’ education is under threat across the region. The Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan has banned girls and women from attending schools and universities, effectively denying them the right to an education. The poisoning of girls at schools in Iran is a stark reminder of the importance of defending the right to education for all, regardless of gender or background.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File