If you haven’t been following the cast changes in the long-running children’s television series “Sesame Street” (which turned 40 in 2009), you probably haven’t yet met Zari.
Of course, you wouldn’t unless you lived in Afghanistan, where Zari is the newest addition to that country’s version of the program, called “Bagch-e-Simsim.”
As is the nature of liberal-run TV for children, “Sesame Street” has long trafficked in political correctness, which explains the company’s vision for Zari. Her purpose is to address “the importance of good health, universal acceptance and the empowerment of girls.”
Especially the part about empowerment. Sesame Street VP of Global Impact, Sherrie Westin, is quoted in the promotional video that follows as saying:
The exciting part about Zari is that she is modeling for young girls that it is wonderful to go to school and that it’s OK to dream about having a career.
Before anyone gets too excited, Bethany Blankley serves up a reality sandwich as a reminder:
Under Islamic rule in Afghanistan, girls are prohibited from learning to read or going to school, without fear of punishment of death. According to the Qur’an, women and girls have little to no legal or human rights at all.
- 85 percent of Afghan women have no formal education and are illiterate,
- 40 percent of Afghan girls attend elementary school; only one in 20 study beyond the sixth grade,
- Roughly three times more boys attend school than girls,
- Most Afghan parents believe it is unnecessary for girls to be educated. Schools for girls have been burned down, hundreds of their teachers continue to be threatened or killed, and girls continue to fear being physically harmed or killed while walking to or from school,
- More than 50 percent of Afghan girls are married or engaged by age 12,
- Almost 60 percent of girls are married by age 16,
- 80 percent of forced and arranged marriages occur in poor rural areas to far older men including, 60 years old and older– whom they meet for the first time at their “wedding,
- “The risk of death during pregnancy or childbirth for girls under 14 is five times higher than for adult women.
- Afghan widows, on average, are 35 years-old; 94 percent are illiterate; most have more than four children to support.