Overview:

In the second winter under Taliban rule, millions of Afghans are taking extreme measures to get by.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The second winter under Taliban rule has seen millions of Afghans on the brink of starvation. Some have sold their organs and even their daughters in an effort to survive. For most, that is still not enough. In place of a meal, many parents have been giving their children sleep medication to allow them a break from the pain of hunger. 

Since the US signed a peace deal with the Taliban in 2020, the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has steadily increased, driven partly by Western sanctions against the government and partly by Taliban refusal to address the human rights abuses that initiated the sanctions.

Prior to the war, the Taliban had overthrown the previous regime, establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Its initial move was to institute an extremely strict interpretation of Islamic religious texts. This often justified mistreatment of women, political opponents, and anyone viewed as an apostate from Islam.

Roughly 120,000 Afghans relocated to various countries around the world but those who have remained have seen an incredible decrease in the freedom they have been granted over the last 20 years.  

The US agreed to withdraw after the Taliban agreed to prevent the territory they control from being used by terrorist groups and to enter negotiations with the Afghan government. There was no official ceasefire. 

Roughly 120,000 Afghans relocated to various countries around the world but those who have remained have seen an incredible decrease in the freedom they have been granted over the last 20 years.  

The Taliban froze foreign funds and rapidly crashed the Afghan economy. In March, it was reported that 95% of Afghan households didn’t have enough to eat, and by August an estimated six million were on the brink of starvation.  Coupled with food shortages due to climate change and supply chain limitations from the Russia-Ukraine war, the Afghans are in what the New Yorker called the “largest humanitarian crisis in the world.

The United Nations, along with several countries issued humanitarian exceptions, but the country is still experiencing a severe lack of assistance. 

Taliban targets women’s rights 

Outside of Taliban control, girls in Afghanistan could get an education, listen to music, travel without a male-relative companion, and show their faces in public if they so chose. Under the ideology of the Islamic fundamentalists, these secular freedoms are disallowed. 

Girls are banned from secondary schools, and all women must cover their faces and be accompanied by a male relative to be in public. Such restrictions are increasing quickly, with women banned from visiting parks, swimming pools, and gyms in the capital Kabul.

Such practices as flogging, amputations, and mass executions have returned to the country. Last week, 12 people including three women were reportedly flogged in front of thousands of onlookers at a football stadium in Afghanistan.

“We are not afraid of death or that the Taliban will threaten our families. What we are terrified of is being omitted from society,” Afghan activist Laila Basim, co-founder of a library for women, told the BBC. “We want to show the Taliban that Afghan women won’t stay silent, and our second goal is to expand the culture of reading books among women, particularly those girls who are deprived of education.”

tatiania perry

Tatiania Perry

OnlySky news editor Tatiania Perry has been a writer for Newsweek, Illinois Public Media, and NBC Universal, as well as in the non-profit sector. She holds a Masters in Journalism from the University of...