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Afghan women’s mental health worsening, signaling concerns, UN report reveals


Sep 19, 2023

The mental health of Afghan women has significantly declined under the harsh measures implemented by the Taliban, according to a joint report released by three United Nations agencies. The security situation in Afghanistan has worsened since the Taliban came to power. Between April and June, nearly 70% of Afghan women reported experiencing increased feelings of anxiety, isolation, and depression, a significant increase from the previous quarter. The report, conducted by UN Women, the International Organization for Migration, and the United Nations Assistance Mission, gathered data from 592 Afghan women representing 22 provinces in the country.

The women interviewed described suffering from a range of psychological problems, including depression, insomnia, loss of hope and motivation, anxiety, fear, aggression, isolation, and suicidal thoughts. The Taliban, who promised a more moderate rule, have imposed strict measures against women, including prohibiting them from participating in public life, work, and education. Girls are banned from attending school beyond the sixth grade, and Afghan women are barred from working in local or non-governmental organizations.

As a result, the opportunities for education have greatly diminished, with community-based education programs being banned and home schooling efforts regularly shut down by the Taliban. Afghanistan is the only country in the world with such restrictions on girls’ education. The rights of Afghan women and children have become a major concern on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly.

The report found that 81% of women did not engage with local Taliban authorities on issues important to them during the period from April to June 2023. Many Afghan women are skeptical of international recognition of the Taliban government, with 46% opposing it under any circumstances and 50% only supporting it under certain conditions, such as the improvement of women’s rights and the formation of an inclusive government. The fear is that international recognition could further embolden the Taliban to tighten its oppressive policies towards women and girls.

In response to these challenges, Afghan women are calling for the international community to maintain political and economic sanctions against the Taliban. They also urge increased engagement with the Taliban on gender equality and women’s rights, including involving community and religious leaders in awareness and advocacy efforts. The women emphasize the need for counseling and psychological services, as well as access to international scholarships and safe migration options for studying and working abroad.

By Editor

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