Afghanistan – A Surge in Female Suicide & Depression
Date: December 29, 2023
AFGHANISTAN – A SURGE IN FEMALE SUICIDE & DEPRESSION
The Taliban has steadily whittled away women’s and girls’ rights in Afghanistan over the past 2 years, prompting a surge in depression and suicide.
December 21, 2023 – Girls and young women in Afghanistan are committing or attempting suicide in significantly higher numbers since the Taliban took control of the country and started restricting their movement and ratcheting back their rights, according to doctors and international organizations.
The Taliban, despite promising to afford females more rights than under their previous hardline reign, quickly closed schools for girls and barred women from universities, most workplaces, national parks, and other public places. Women must be accompanied by a male chaperone when they go out in public. Girls are now educated only through sixth grade.
Dr. Shikib Ahmadi, a pseudonymous doctor at a mental health clinic in Afghanistan’s western Herat province, told CNN in a report published Sunday that the number of female patients has surged 40% to 50% since the Taliban took over in 2021, and about 10% of them take their own lives.
Globally, and in Afghanistan as late as 2019, twice as many men commit suicide as women; in Afghanistan, a majority of suicides are now women, The Guardian reported in August, citing leaked data from 11 provinces. About 80% of suicide attempts in Afghanistan are among women, Wilson Center head Mark Green wrote in September.
Along with the quashing of hope and opportunities, an increase in forced and underage marriages and rampant domestic abuse have driven up female suicides. They often use household items like rat poison, pesticides, and cleaning fluids. Arzo, 14, drank acid and now is living illegally in Pakistan with a brother and sister trying to keep her alive, CNN reported.
The Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the United Nations human rights commissioner in January that there were many cases of women committing suicide in the past 20 years, when it wasn’t in power, “but by the grace of Allah, we do not have such cases now.”
Suicide is considered shameful and un-Islamic in Afghanistan, and suicides and suicide attempts are often covered up.