Afghanistan: One Year Under the Taliban
By Jamie Malewska, Marketing Coordinator
August of 2021
Once full of hope that their futures will be better than those of their mothers and grandmothers, a young generation of women in Afghanistan are now watching their dreams slip away.
The international military presence completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan in August of 2021. Seizing the opportunity, the Taliban began swiftly moving across the country. In less than 10 days, they arrived in Kabul, claiming authority as the new government. International sanctions immediately followed the group’s takeover, along with the freezing of almost $9 billion of Afghanistan’s assets abroad (ICRC).
In hopes of freeing up their frozen assets and other funding channels, the Taliban has actively been promoting a more moderate image of themselves to the international community. The group’s leaders even made statements that they would uphold women’s rights to work and to education. Unfortunately, as time has gone by these claims have been proven empty. Now, one year under Taliban rule, the outlook for Afghanistan is one of desperation, particularly for women and children.
Reminiscent of the 1990s
In September of 2021, the Taliban reinstated the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. The Ministry is well-known for its strict and oftentimes violent enforcement of the Taliban’s religious laws during their rule in the 1990s. Staying true to its reputation, the ministry has actively been imposing strict laws. Women are barred from holding most jobs, attending secondary school, leaving the home without face coverings, or traveling without a male chaperone.
As time goes on, the Taliban continues to push out strict policies representative of their interpretation of Sharia law. Government workers must grow beards and journalism and foreign media outlets are being heavily restricted. Most recently, they stated that corporal punishment will return, adding to the pile of evidence that the group’s previous brutality is not just an issue of the past (BBC).
Even before August of 2021, healthcare was inaccessible to a large portion of the population. A year later, the situation is even worse. Without international aid, many hospitals have been closing due to a lack of funding, staff, and equipment. Though foreign assistance is slowly starting up again, millions of families are still unable to receive essential medical services. According to the WHO, 70% of Afghans are at least 6 miles away from a hospital and are without transportation. For pregnant women and young children, walking six miles across rough terrain can be an impossible task. Due to the financial crisis, many who do have access to a nearby hospital are now unable to afford it.
A lack of clean water and food insecurity are also plaguing the nation. Drought, rising food prices, and the economic crisis are all contributing to a steep climb in malnutrition cases. The International Committee of the Red Cross reports that staple food items like flour, rice, and oil are doubling in price. When families start skipping meals and decreasing portion sizes, pregnant and breastfeeding women along with babies and toddlers, are at elevated risk of major health complications.
Limits on women’s movement, financial struggles, and inaccessible healthcare are all contributing to more women giving birth at home. Without clean water and basic sanitation products, the risk of infection and other complications is incredibly high. Saving Moses is providing hygiene bags with basic supplies like soap, towels, and other sanitary products which can increase the chance of survival for women and newborns.
Caring for a woman and allowing her to rest before and after birth increases the chance of a healthy delivery. Our course on safe birthing practices teaches the importance of rest, sanitation, and other skills needed to assist women in giving birth at home.
The future of Afghanistan under the Taliban is filled with uncertainty. However, one year later, the lives of women and children have become increasingly endangered.
Though it can be easy to focus on all the problems we have no control over, it is important to shift our focus to what we can do to help. To learn more about how you can help women and newborns in Afghanistan click here.