Over 150 schoolgirls in Afghanistan's capital Kabul fell sick after smelling gas and drinking water, and are now being examined for possible poisoning, hospital officials said on Wednesday (May 1).

While instances of suspected poisoning are sometimes found to be false alarms, there have been numerous substantiated cases of mass poisonings of schoolgirls by elements of Afghanistan's ultra-conservative society that are opposed to female education.

Hospital officials said the girls appeared to become ill after smelling some kind of gas and drinking water at the Sultan Razia school in Kabul.

Since the 2001 ousting of the Taliban, which banned education for women and girls, females have returned to schools, especially in Kabul.

But periodic attacks against female students, their teachers and their school buildings, continue.

Afghan women have won back basic rights in education, voting and employment since 2001, but fears are growing that such gains could be traded away as Western forces prepare to leave and the Afghan government seeks peace talks with the Taliban.

Presented by Adam Justice