The rights of women are strongly supported by more than 90% of the Afghan women and men included in the recent survey conducted in Afghanistan by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). Women’s Health and Human Rights in Afghanistan: A Population Based Assessment, is the first study to systematically assess human rights concerns of a large Afghan population.
The study found that the women surveyed in areas controlled by the Taliban “almost unanimously expressed that the Taliban had made their life ‘much worse’, attributing their declining mental and physical health to Taliban policies.” When the women living under the Taliban are compared to women living in non-Taliban controlled areas, they report significantly worse physical and mental health, including much higher rates of major depression and suicide.
Another significant outcome of the survey is the Afghan people’s disagreement with the Taliban regime’s claims that the restrictions they have imposed on women are dictated by Islamic Law. More than 80% of the men and women surveyed believe that the teachings of Islam do not restrict women’s human rights.
Based on their findings, the PHR report calls for the end of the “systematic discrimination against women” by the Taliban. Among its other recommendations, PHR calls for the international community to increase humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, while also reporting that more than a third of the women surveyed said that Taliban policies restricted their access to humanitarian assistance.