Meet The 14-Year-Old Girl Who Was Shot For Speaking Out Against The Taliban

Malala Yousufzai has been targeted for opening a “new chapter of obscenity” in Pakistan.

Stringer Pakistan / Reuters

This is Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old Pakistani girl well-known for speaking out against the Taliban for murdering locals and closing girls’ schools, including her own.

On Tuesday, a Taliban gunman approached a schoolbus in Pakistan’s Swat valley and shot Yousufzai in the head and neck, according to reports. She was badly injured, but survived.


In this video from Pakistan TV, one of the three girls injured in the attack explains what happened:

“Our school got over and we were coming back home when a man asked us to stop the bus. He asked us who Malala Yousufzai was. We told her who she was. And then he opened fire on us. Along with Malala, another girl and me were also injured.”

Stringer Pakistan / Reuters
Sherin Zada / AP
Sherin Zada / AP

Doctors believe Yousufzai’s wounds are not life-threatening, but a bullet did pierce her backbone. She is being sent abroad for treatment, as local medics do not have the resources for the “sophisticated surgical procedure” required, according to reports.

In 2009, Yousufzai was featured prominently in this New York Times documentary. Yousufzai tells the reporters she wants to be a doctor. Her father encourages her to go into politics.

For one week in 2009, she also kept a diary for the BBC. Even then, Yousafzai feared being attacked:

I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.
Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taleban’s edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.
On my way from school to home I heard a man saying ‘I will kill you’. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.

The diary got her nominated for the 2011 KidsRights Foundation’s International Children’s Peace Prize. Though she didn’t win, she was the first Pakistani girl to be nominated since the organization began granting awards in 2005.

Later in 2011, she was awarded the Pakistani government’s first National Peace Award. And so, by age 13, she was a bona fide activist. She had a political following and even a school named after her.

A Taliban spokesman said they attacked Yousufzai because she was anti-Taliban and she “would not be spared.”

“This was a new chapter of obscenity, and we have to finish this chapter,” spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan told the AP.

The U.S. State Department gave its condolences and condemned the attack:

“Directing violence at children is barbaric,” said spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. “It’s cowardly.”

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