Some Afghan girls have described the odor as sweet and floral, others as smoky or rotten—but in the last three weeks, about 200 schoolgirls have suffered headaches, vomiting, and even collapse after smelling something. Parents fear that the Taliban is using poison to keep the girls from school. But as the Wall Street Journal reports, some experts have another opinion: the girls are suffering from a mass psychological disorder.
Dozens of girls have been hospitalized, but blood tests have failed to turn up any poisonous substance. Afghan officials have arrested six people and continue to suspect poison, but the reactions may have resulted from terror of being attacked for going to school. Either way, said one UN official, the reality for schoolgirls is dire: "What we see is a growing acceptance of violence against women and girls."