World hero at 13



September 2, 2016
World hero at 13

POWER GIRL: Zulaikha Patel, 13, has won many hearts

Zulaikha and others fought against racist hair policies at Pretoria High for Girls.

Pretoria High School for Girls learner Zulaikha Patel has become an international hero to young girls and women around the world.

The 13-year-old became the face of a movement against racist hair policies at her school, which has put the spotlight on other schools across the country.

It all started on Monday when black students at Pretoria High for Girls protested after being told to straighten their hair.

Zulaikha was at the forefront of the protest, and a picture of the afro-haired teen standing in front of a white teacher nearly twice her size with her wrists crossed has gone viral.

The hashtag #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh was even noticed by American singer Solange Knowles, who has added her voice to the movement.

Using the hashtag #ZulaikhaPatel, Solange tweeted: “I think you are super rad #ZulaikhaPatel Go on w ya baaad self”.

During an interview with American news channel CNN, Zulaikha said her hair has always been an issue.

“Even in Primary [School] 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.”

During an interview with the Daily Vox, Amira Patel said her sister was bullied and changed schools three times because of her hair.

Amira said Zulaikha studied Pretoria High’s code of conduct in her bedroom for two years and asked her for information on human and children’s rights before she kicked off her protest that sparked an international outcry.

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