Women in Afghanistan suffer from depression

Afghan girl after her family members were killed by Jehadis rocket

The Times of India, Nov.6,1998
By T V Parasuram

WASHINGTON: At least 97 per cent of the women in Afghanistan are suffering from major depression, 86 per cent have significant symptons of anxiety and nearly a quarter frequently think of committing suicide, a report said.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), in a report on the plight of Afghan women under the Taliban also found out that 42 per cent have post traumatic stress disorder. It was based on the findings of investigators it sent to Kabul for an in-depth study. They surveyed 160 women and also interviewed 40 other women.

PHR also said that while malnutrition among women is rampant, only six per cent of the women interviewed reported receiving humanitarian assistance. Eighty seven per cent reported a decrease in access to health services because no chaperon was available, a report published in The Washington Post said.

Hospitals refused to admit them as they did not own a veil or there was no female doctor available (male doctors are severely restricted in treating women). The report said these restrictions are also condemning children to death. The Post said that 120 women's organizations in the U.S. have begun a signature campaign, led by the Feminist Majority Foundation, urging the U.S. and UN to help restore women's rights in Afghanistan and to pressurise Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to stop funding the Taliban.

It said the heightened campaign has had at least one result: UNOCAL, a California-based multinational consortium, has pulled out of a scheme to run a pipeline through Afghanistan, which could generate as much as $100 million for Afghanistan. Elenor Smeal, president of the Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid said the U.S. has a responsibility to stop the "unmerciful'' treatment of Afghan women under the Taliban because the Islamic militia emerged from forces armed and supported by the U.S. against the Soviets.

The Post said that a state department official claimed the U.S. leverage against the Taliban is "very slight'' because "they believe God is on their side and they are not sympathetic to arguments to the contrary.'' (PTI)

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