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  • Catie Fristoe

A Ban on Contraceptives: The Taliban’s Next Step in Decreasing Women’s Rights

In a country already facing countless numbers of health disparities and setbacks, women, especially mothers, have been struck once again. ABC7 describes the Taliban as a “Deobandi Islamic fundamentalist and Pashtun nationalist militant political movement”, a group that was formed in 1994, overthrown after the U.S’s invasion in 2001, and then reinstated in August of 2021. The Taliban are known to have severely restricted women’s human rights when they were in full power about two decades ago, but many had hoped that this time they would be less controlling and less powerful. But their most recently imposed restriction was on the purchasing and selling of condoms and many other forms of birth control within at least two Afghanistan cities, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif (ABC7).

The Feminist reports that Mazar-e-Sharif in particular will be hit hard, being the “largest city in northern Afghanistan, where many family planning programs were popular” during the time in between the Taliban’s reign. During the two decades between the U.S invasion and now, progress was made on women and mother’s health care rights. The Guardian states that “one in every 14 Afghan women dies of causes related to pregnancy”, making Afghanistan one of the most dangerous countries to give birth in. In the past twenty years, maternal and infant mortality were both slowly decreasing, showing slight progress and giving women in Afghanistan hope towards a better future (The Feminist).

The Taliban has notoriously restricted other rights for women and children including access to education, work, and even the ability to leave their own homes. Not only this, but women’s access to education on maternal health is limited. India Today states that “according to a 2021 Human Rights Watch report, the most basic information on maternal health and family planning is not available to most women in Afghanistan.” Recently, it has also been demanded that women bring a man with them when they travel outside the house, especially to doctor’s appointments, further limiting their rights and independence (The Feminist).

ABC7 News Station explains that the Taliban considers the use of contraceptives a “western concept of controlling population” or a “western conspiracy.” Yet, interestingly enough, the Quar’an does not explicitly state any connection to these types of beliefs. In The Guardian’s interview with Shabnam Nasimi, an Afghan-born social activist in the UK, she says that the Quar’an “does not prohibit the use of contraception, nor does it forbid couples from having control over their pregnancies or the number of children they want to have.” But the Taliban continue to act based on their interpretation of Sharia law, threatening pharmacies and women within their own homes in order to stop the use of contraceptives (The Feminist).

This topic not only sparks conversations within the subject of maternal healthcare and maternal justice, but it makes us think of the disconnect between the “western, industrialized” world and countries like Afghanistan. How can we bridge this gap and create trust between healthcare professionals and different governmental groups? How can we develop a unifying goal to decrease maternal mortality and give women their basic human rights back?


Edited by: Anne Sacks

Graphic Designed by: Aj Kochuba


References

  1. Bothelo, Jessica. “Taliban Bans Condoms, Birth Control, Calling Use a 'Western Conspiracy'.” KATV, 21 Feb. 2023, https://katv.com/news/offbeat/taliban-bans-condoms-and-other- forms-of-birth-control-calling-use-a-western-conspiracy-militant-political-movement-afghanistan-muslim-population-sex-religion-reproductive-health-care.

  2. FMF Staff, and Feminist Majority Foundation Blog. “Taliban Bans the Selling of Contraceptives in Afghanistan.” Feminist Majority Foundation, 23 Feb. 2023, https://feminist.org/news/taliban-bans-the-selling-of-contraceptives-in-afghanistan/.

  3. “Taliban Ban Sale of Contraceptives, Call It Conspiracy by West to Control Muslim Population.” India Today, 19 Feb. 2023, https://www.indiatoday.in /world/story/taliban-ban-sale-of-contraceptives-call-it-conspiracy-by-west-to-control-muslim-population-2336864-2023-02-19.

  4. “Taliban Fighters Stop Chemists Selling Contraception.” The Guardian, 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2023/feb/17/taliban- ban-contraception-western-conspiracy.

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