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Malalay-Speaking out from Swat . Story of a brave young girl ... . . If the men of my soil failed to win Don’t worry my holy land! The girls will come forward to fight for you. . Ongoing war, destruction, conflict, displacement, loss of all means of livelihoods, absence of the very basics of amenities, denial of all the basic human rights, physical, mental and emotional anguish and death - one sees all these things together in the area of Swat, FATA and NWFP, where militant elements have played havoc with the lives, livelihoods and rights of people. . Violence, Talibanisation and extremist mindset has effected education the most, particularly, in the area of Swat. Hundreds of schools have been burnt down, girls’ education is targeted, specifically, and the war seems to be taking a shape of ‘war on education’, rather, more precisely, ‘war on female education’. “I represent Swat, the Switzerland of the East, which, was once so beautiful, so peaceful and so full of life has now become a valley of violence, bloodshed and denial of respect for humanity and values. "My valley is turning into ruins and my school is threatened to be turned into ashes.” says Malalay, an 11-year old girl from Swat. . Malalay was speaking to a Peace Coference which was organized to discuss and highlight the effects of on-going militancy and consequent war on terror in Swat, FATA and NWFP, in particular and in the country, in general. Malalay whose name is derived from a heroic folk lore character had a very emotional account of the sufferings and her life as a girl child in terror hit areas. She shared her fears and concerns about the future which seem to hold nothing but bleakness. She said that we have complied with all the orders those Taliban have tried to enforce upon us yet, they have made our lives so miserable. “Every child of my age in the area is terrified. We are not allowed to go to schools, when they asked us not to go to schools, we stopped going there. Yet, they torched our schools. We couldn’t go out to play.” . Sharing her dream for future, Malalay said, “I want to become a doctor. I want to tell all the extremist elements that if they deny female education, where would they send their own daughters for medical treatment.” . She was fearful for her teachers who are threatened everyday by these militant elements. “My teachers have dedicated themselves for the mission of imparting education and yet, these forces have threatened to kill them and forced them to stay at home.” . “My school has 62 teachers and around 700 children are studying in the school and it’s been weeks that no educational activity has taken place in our schools. I won a quiz competition on my last day at school and I was so happy that I beat all the other students of my age, but now I dread that I would never be able to go to school, participate in quizzes and win prizes for my abilities.”, Malalay had tears in her eyes while saying that. . Malalay is a very brilliant girl and has a very good understanding of happenings of her own area, she strongly condemns the militancy and believes that people are the worst effected of the repercussions. Her love for her homeland and her anguish on the current situation is very obvious from this poem, which she has written by herself addressing the elders and the people sitting in power structures: . Education is my basic right My books have been burnt My pen has been broken My school has been torched O’ the protector of human rights and justice, Come out! Stand by us! Give my books back! Give my pen back I am the daughter of the eve! I’m a mother, I’ m a sister, I’ m a daughter… I am an honorable part of this global village… Is there anyone to hear my voice, to hear Swat?? Help us and protect us! . Malalay inspires people with her conviction, from the originality of thoughts. Her words are source of strength, encouragement and hope. She vows to continue speaking out against the violation of girls’ rights, especially their right to education, as she believes education is the only way to prosperity and better future.



Your journal speaks so clearly of the plight of young girls in Pakistan. Thank you for sharing the story and the words of Malalay, so that her voice is heard. Because we are listening! What a brave visionary. My thoughts are with her and with the many young women in Pakistan who seek education and a future.

Warm regards, Jade

Rukhsana, thank you for this. Malalay is a powerful voice for Pakistan's future.

We are working on a piece for our next magazine, and I would love to get in touch with Malalay. Do you think this would be possible? I'd also love to chat with you further about our piece to see if you have any suggestions and insights!

In partnership,

Corine Milano Managing Editor

Dear Corine,

That would be an excellent idea to get in touch with Malalay, she is definitely a strong girl and her father is a well known social activist of the area. Only thing they are concerned about the security of the girl because millitants are after such people and they try to kill the ones who try to speak up against them.

We can further chat...how can we go about it??


Rukhsana Shama

Rukhsana, thank you for your quick response. If you get in touch with me we can figure out the best way to continue our conversation.

Thanks so much—I look forward to talking!