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In Pakistan, Where The Taliban Bomb One Girls Schools After Another

The shooting of teenage blogger Malala Yousafzai was just the tip of the iceberg. Extremists are taking aim at all girls schools of northwest Pakistan. What does the Taliban fear?

A girl's school in Pakistan
A girl's school in Pakistan
Lucie Peytermann

MASHO GAGGAR - The freezing cold pierces through her long veil, her skinny body and bare feet exposed to the wintry elements. Crouching in order to avoid sitting on the wet ground, seven-year-old Samrin focuses on today’s lesson, her open textbook sitting in the dirt.

No classroom, no chairs, and no blackboard for this Pakistani schoolgirl: In the northwest village of Masho Gaggar, the lessons are taught outside, on dirty and dusty jute bags. Since her public primary school was bombed by the Taliban, Samrin and her classmates have been learning in the schoolyard of the village’s other overcrowded school.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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