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Where else would she go?

The Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by Taliban gunmen because she campaigned for education for girls has come to Britain for treatment. She will be treated alongside British soldiers injured in Afghanistan.

Malala Yousafzai was flown into Birmingham airport on Monday afternoon before being taken to the city’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. . .Medics at the centre are experts in treating patients with gunshot and blast wounds.

Fourteen-year-old Malala, well known for writing a blog about how the Taliban stopped girls going to school when they controlled Pakistan’s Swat Valley in 2009, was shot in the head last Tuesday by two gunmen as she travelled by school bus.

A very different report from 18th century British America shows children caught near the Battle of Brandywine in 1777. As Douglas Harper described the scene in his book West Chester -

The morning was wretchedly hot, with some clouds that brought little relief. Persifor Frazer’s three young children were at school in Thornbury. The oldest was Sally, age eight. Many years later, she remembered hearing the gunfire and cannonading: "The teachers went out, and listened some time, and returned, saying, 'There is a battle not far off, children, you may go home.' As we returned we met our mother on horseback, going over towards the place of action, knowing that. . .our father must be in the midst of the affray."

Look again at that paragraph about the children and their mother. It contains insights into Anglo-American life more than two hundred years ago, when, despite a war, life was far more civilised than it is in Pakistan today.

First there is the fact that children went to school, and the school was large enough to have more than one teacher. Second, girls were taught as well as boys so Sally was in school with her brothers. No one was trying to shoot her in the head for attending school or throwing acid in her face.

The education of girls helped to make Britain and America prosperous because the simple, incontrovertible truth is that a country's success depends on women as well as men. No country that suppresses half its citizens succeeds. Those that do are basket cases, run by kleptocrats, with nothing to offer their citizens or the world.

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