Kabul [Afghanistan], August 11 (ANI): One year since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, an economic crisis, crippling drought and new restrictions have shattered girls' lives, excluding them from society and leaving them hungry, with a quarter showing signs of depression, according to a new report by Save the Children.
The report, titled Breaking point: Life for children one year since the Taliban takeover, shows that 97 per cent of families are struggling to provide enough food for their children and that girls are eating less than boys.
Almost 80 per cent of children said they had gone to bed hungry in the past 30 days. Girls were almost twice as likely as boys to frequently go to bed hungry.
A lack of food is having devastating consequences on children's health and threatening their future. Nine in 10 girls said their meals had reduced in the past year and that they worry because they're losing weight and have no energy to study, play and work.
The crisis is also taking a dangerous toll on girls' mental and psychosocial well-being. According to interviews with their caregivers, 26 per cent of girls are showing signs of depression compared with 16 per cent of boys, and 27 per cent of girls are showing signs of anxiety compared with 18 per cent of boys.
Girls in focus groups said they had trouble sleeping at night because they were worried and have bad dreams. They also said they had been excluded from many of the activities that previously made them happy, such as spending time with relatives and friends and going to parks and shops.
After the Taliban's takeover last August, thousands of secondary school girls were ordered to stay home, reversing years of progress for gender equality. Girls interviewed by Save the Children expressed disappointment and anger over the fact they can no longer go to school and said they felt hopeless about their future because they don't have the rights and freedoms they had previously.
More than 45 per cent of girls said they're not attending school - compared with 20 per cent of boys - listing economic challenges, the Taliban's ban on girls attending secondary school classes as well as community attitudes as the key barriers preventing them from accessing education.
Following the withdrawal of international forces last year, the Taliban took power on 15 August. Billions of dollars in international aid were withdrawn, Afghanistan's foreign currency reserves were frozen and the banking system collapsed. The subsequent economic crisis and the country's worst drought in 30 years have plunged households into poverty.
Children interviewed by Save the Children said the economic situation - leaving households without enough to eat and without basic items - was driving an increase in child marriages in their communities, and that this was impacting girls more than boys. Out of the children who said they'd been asked to marry to improve their family's financial situation in the past year, 88 per cent were girls.
Chris Nyamandi, Save the Children Country Director in Afghanistan, said: "Life is dire for children in Afghanistan, one year since the Taliban took control. Children are going to bed hungry night after night. They're exhausted and wasting away, unable to play and study like they used to. They're spending their days toiling in brick factories, collecting rubbish and cleaning homes instead of going to school. (ANI)