During 2003 and 2009 it was not a good time to be a child in the Swat region of Pakistan. The Swat region lies among huge vallies and hills along the Pakistani and Afghanistan borders. It is an area of great beauty and is even known as the Switzerland of Asia. However that’s where the good stuff ends when the region fell under the control of the Taliban.
One of the very first rules was to order all the schools to close, as part of an edict designed to stop the education specifically of girls. When this happened Malala Yousafzai was only eleven years old. However at great risk to herself she started an anonymous diary on the BBC Urdu’s website. This blog became so famous she later featured in a couple of New York Times documentaries covering her experiences.
Here’s an extract from the times after the strict Sharia law was relaxed and the ban on the schools was lifted.
Today our teacher asked us how many girls listen to FM radio and most of the girls said that they used to but not anymore. But few girls said that they still listen to it. Girls were of the view that once FM radio transmission is stopped only then peace can return to Swat.
The Taleban say that they use FM radio to propagate teachings of the Koran but commander Khalil after a brief teaching of the Koran subtly switches over to threaten opponents. Announcements regarding fighting, activities and murders are made on FM radio.
During our recess today we saw helicopters flying. The helicopters fly very low over our school. Girls called out to the soldiers and they waved back. Soldiers seem to be tired of waving now.
Now however the bravery of this little girl has been recognised and Malala Yousafzai has been nominated for the International Kids Peace Prize which is awarded each year by a Dutch charity called Kidsrights.
You can see all her diaries online at the BBC web site if you search for Malala Yousafzai. If you are able to watch Iplayer abroad then you can also see the BBC interview that was recorded after the area was returned to normal rule. The story is quite an inspiration to children and adults across the world many who of course take these basic rights of schooling for granted.