August 10, 2022
A year after the Taliban took power, an economic crisis, drought and new restrictions are taking the lives of Afghan girls. A quarter of girls show signs of depression.
the report Closing Point: Children’s Lives One Year After the Taliban Seized Power, shows that 97% of families find it difficult to feed their children. Girls in particular are the victims of this deteriorating situation. Chris Nyammande, Save the Children Afghanistan Director: “Since the Taliban took over, life for children in Afghanistan has become much more difficult. They toil in brick factories, work as garbage collectors or as domestic servants instead of going to school.” Nearly 80% of all babies say they went to bed hungry in the last month, and girls are almost twice as likely to do so. They get less food than their siblings.
Food shortages have long-term consequences for children’s health. Nine out of ten girls say they have less to eat than they did last year, fear losing weight and have no energy to study, play or work. The mental health of young girls is also poor. The report shows that 26% of girls show signs of depression, compared to 16% of boys. 27% of girls show signs of anxiety disorder, compared to 18% of boys.
The girls have trouble sleeping because they worry and have nightmares. They reported being restricted from activities that used to make them happy, such as spending time with family and friends and going to parks and stores.
In the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover last August, thousands of high school girls were ordered to stay home, rolling back years of progress on gender equality. The girls told Save the Children they were angry and disappointed that they could no longer go to school. The survey shows that 46% of girls have stopped attending school, compared to 20% of boys.
Fifteen-year-old Parishad* lives in northern Afghanistan. She does not go to school, because sometimes her parents cannot feed all their children, and there is certainly no money for books and school supplies. Her father is a day laborer and her mother cooks for wealthy families. Last year they had to flee their village, and they rented a house in the city. But in the end they could no longer afford the rent. The owner offered to buy one of the children, but her parents refused. They now have shelter in a remote suburb through a relative.
Parishad: “Some days my parents don’t earn anything and then we don’t have any food. My brothers wake up in the middle of the night hungry and scream for food. I don’t eat myself, I provide food for my farmers and sisters. When they are very hungry, I feel very sad and cry a lot.” Then I go to the neighbors to ask for food. Sometimes they help me and sometimes they say they have nothing.” Parishad also wishes to go to school. “When I see other girls going to school, I want that too. We don’t have school supplies and we don’t have money for books either. I can’t change it.”
After the withdrawal of international forces last year, the Taliban took power on August 15. The international community has withdrawn billions of euros in international aid, Afghanistan’s reserves of US dollars or other foreign currencies have been frozen, and the banking system has collapsed. This led to an economic crisis. Drought – the worst in the past 30 years – has also exacerbated poverty. Save the Children spoke to many children and according to them, the economic situation is causing more child marriages. Girls in particular need to be married. Of the children who said they were proposed in the past year to improve their family’s financial situation, 88% were girls.
Nyamande: “The solution to problems does not lie in Afghanistan alone, political leaders around the world must once again provide funding for emergency aid. Afghanistan’s banking system needs to be revitalized as a generation of children is at risk of losing their childhood due to child labour, forced marriage and violations of children’s rights “.
Save the Children has been protecting the rights of children and children across Afghanistan since 1976, including during periods of conflict, regime change and natural disasters. As the crisis escalated in August 2021, Save the Children expanded its aid to support the growing number of children in need. Save the Children provides health care, food, education, child protection, shelter, water and sanitation, among other things.
* The name has been changed for the safety of the guest