The news from Lodi

Girls yanked around like so much furniture.

Like dozens of other Pakistani-American girls here, Hajra Bibi stopped attending the local public school when she reached puberty, and began studying at home. Her family wanted her to clean and cook for her male relatives, and had also worried that other American children would mock both her Muslim religion and her traditional clothes…About 40 percent of the Pakistani and other Southeast Asian girls of high school age who are enrolled in the district here are home-schooled…Some 80 percent of the city’s 2,500 Muslims are Pakistani, and many are interrelated villagers who try to recreate the conservative social atmosphere back home. A decade ago many girls were simply shipped back to their villages once they reached adolescence…As soon as they finish their schooling, the girls are married off, often to cousins brought in from their families’ old villages.

How nice to know that Lodi has so much in common with Luton.

Aishah Bashir, now an 18-year-old Independent School student, was sent back to Pakistan when she was 12 and stayed till she was 16. She had no education there. Asked about home schooling, she said it was the best choice. But she admitted that the choice was not hers and, asked if she would home-school her own daughter, stared mutely at the floor. Finally she said quietly: “When I have a daughter, I want her to learn more than me. I want her to be more educated.”

Too bad Aishah can’t have what she wants for her daughter. Too bad she can’t be more educated too.

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