A humanitarian group says that one year into the return to power of the Taliban, Afghan girls have been confronted with a grave economic crisis, a crippling drought, and new restrictions that have shattered their lives, excluding them from society and leaving them hungry.
As a result, a quarter of Afghan girls are showing signs of depression, Save the Children said in a new report on August 10.
The report, titled Breaking Point: Life For Children One Year Since The Taliban Takeover, found that a whopping 97 percent of families are struggling to provide enough food for their children and almost 80 percent of children said they had gone to bed hungry in the past month.
Girls were almost twice as likely as boys to frequently go to bed hungry, and eat less in general.
Hunger is affecting children's health and development, with 90 percent of the girls saying that less and less food over the past year caused them to lose weight and lack energy to work or even play.
The girls’ mental and psychosocial well-being has also been endangered seriously, the report said.
According to the research for the report, 26 percent of girls are showing signs of depression compared with 16 percent of boys, while 27 percent of girls are presenting symptoms of anxiety compared with 18 percent of boys.
Since taking power following the withdrawal of NATO-led forces in August last year, the Taliban has failed to achieve recognition for its government, with many in the West demanding that the group respect the rights of women and minorities in the country.
Billions of dollars in international aid were blocked, foreign currency reserves were frozen, and the banking system collapsed.
Furthermore, since the militant group's return to power, 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 that 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 percent of the girls interviewed by the humanitarian group said they’re not attending school, compared with 20 percent of boys.
“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," said Chris Nyamandi, Save the Children's Country Director in Afghanistan.
“Girls are bearing the brunt of the deteriorating situation. They’re missing more meals, suffering from isolation and emotional distress, and are staying home while boys go to school. This is a humanitarian crisis, but also a child rights catastrophe," Nyamandi said.