Afghani women and children seek help

As the world helps Malala Yousefzai, Afghans request for their women and children to be also helped.

14-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousufzai is in critical condition after surviving a Taliban assassination attempt. AFP/Mahommad Rehman

KABUL - The global attention bestowed on a Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban has sparked outcry amongst many Afghans dismayed by what they say is the unequal response to the plight of their women and children.

Malala Yousufzai, shot by Taliban gunmen for advocating girls' education, was flown from Pakistan to Britain to receive treatment after the attack this month which drew widespread condemnation and an international outpouring of support.

"Every day an Afghan girl is abused, raped, has acid thrown on her face and mutilated. Yet no one remembers or acknowledges these girls," Elay Ershad, who represents the nomadic Kuchi people in Afghan parliament, told Reuters.

Echoing concerns of other prominent Afghan women, Ershad said the government took no real interest in women's rights, instead using the issue for political gain and currying favour with Western backers, a claim Kabul has dismissed as untrue.

President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly condemned Yousufzai's shooting, even using it to address women's rights in his country: "The people of Afghanistan ... see this attempt not only against (Yousufzai) but also against all Afghan girls," he said last week.

The closest Karzai has come this year to condemning violence against women in Afghanistan, as seen on the scale he has done with Yousufzai, was in July when gunmen publicly executed a 22-year-old woman, named Najiba, for alleged adultery, which prompted an international outcry.

"If the president does not care about Afghan women in general, why does he suddenly care about Malala?" Ershad asked. "No one (here) ever seeks justice once the television cameras are turned off."

The United Arab Emirates provided the plane taking Yousufzai to Britain, while British officials said the Pakistani government was footing the bill for her lengthy treatment in Birmingham.

Karzai has told Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari that the attack was proof the two needed to tackle a common enemy, a move widely seen as an attempt to soothe ties between the neighbours amid bickering over Pakistani shelling across the countries' lawless border.