Afghanistan Global Health

Taliban Bans the Selling of Contraceptives in Afghanistan

In the latest attack on women, the Taliban has ordered pharmacies in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif to stop selling any form of contraceptives. The Taliban has called family planning and the use of contraception “Western” and “forbidden” in their interpretation of Sharia law. Mazar-e-Sharif is the largest city in northern Afghanistan, where many family planning programs were popular during the two decades under the republic.

The Taliban views the use of contraceptives by women as a “western conspiracy” to control the Muslim population. The group views family planning as “unnecessary work.”  

During the two decades under the Islamic Republic, much progress was made in the health sector. Progress was slow in most parts of the country, but overall, maternal and infant mortality had decreased, and skilled birth attendance was increasing.

Since the Taliban takeover of the government in Afghanistan, much of that progress has been reversed, and according to a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report from August 2022, Afghanistan “has the most maternal deaths in Asia-Pacific at 638 deaths/100,000 live births,” compared to 394 deaths in prior years.

Afghan women’s access to healthcare has been impacted dramatically as a result of daily Taliban edicts and attacks on women, including health professionals paired with a tremendous decrease in international aide. In another recent action that harms women, the Taliban issued an order that women must be accompanied by a male relative while visiting a doctor. In another order, women health professionals were asked to bring a male relative along to their work.

If the ban on the selling of contraceptives is enforced, the impact will be devastating as pregnant women can no longer access the care they need throughout their pregnancies and their well-being in between pregnancies.

In the early days of their return to power in August 2021, the Taliban officials promised that this time around, they would take a relatively “moderate” stance on women’s employment and education. However, the group has double downed on attacking women and stripped them of all their fundamental human rights. Among many restrictions and contrary to Islamic teachings, the Taliban has denied Afghan girls their right to education, and Afghan women can no longer work and pursue higher education. Afghan women are also prohibited from leaving their homes unless “necessary.”


Rukhsana News, UNFPA

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