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International Day of the Girl: Zulaikha Patel

Today is #InternationalDayofTheGirl, and we at MoonLook want to celebrate all the little girls around the world, for those who have a voice, and for those who don’t.

One little girl who we wish to pay tribute to is 13 year old Zulaikha Patel – South African student and now heroine – who stood up to racist policies in Pretoria, South Africa this past September.

Zulaikha Patel. Image courtesy of CNN.com

Zulaikha Patel. Image courtesy of CNN.com

‘I was fighting for every black child in this country’ Zulaikha was noted as saying as she refused to tame her afro despite school rules.

As noted by CNN, Pretoria Girls High Code of Conduct does not specifically mention “Afros”, but it does lay out rules for general appearance, including prescribing that all styles “should be conservative, neat and in keeping with the school uniform.”

The school, which was founded in 1902, used to be an all white girls school during apartheid, but has since integrated to all races in 1990.

After being told by teachers that their hair is “exotic” and that their Afros needed to be tamed, students then decided to speak out.

Zulaikha Patel and friends

Zulaikha Patel and friends

“The issue of my hair has been a thing that’s followed me my entire life, even in Primary I was told my hair is not natural, it’s exotic, my Afro was not wanted or anything like that and then the issue followed me to High School” Patel told CNN.

Zulaikha Patel standing up to school officials

Zulaikha Patel standing up to school officials

Patel and her fellow students are brave individuals for standing up for their rights, hair and the colour of their skin despite being told that they aren’t “desirable” or even “respected”.

We applaud you young ladies and we appreciate every single one of you, just the way you are.

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