Shows Hope, Dire Conditions in Afghanistan
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights
Commission and the United Nations Refugee Agency released a report today
assessing the status of economic and social rights in Afghanistan. The second
of its kind, the report consolidates interviews with over 11,000 people, many
of whom are former refugees, internally displaced persons, members of
"vulnerable groups," and residents in remote rural areas.
Among the key findings were high incidents of poverty, housing problems, and
an inability to access the formal justice system. More than 62 percent of all
interviewees reported having no stable income, and over 64 percent reported
that their household is in debt. Thirty-seven percent said that at least one
of their children under 15 was working. Of those with children working,
nearly half reported that most or all of their children work.
Among women, maternal health care is scarce. Only 21.5 percent of
interviewees said that a midwife or trained birth attendant was present
during their last delivery. Some 46 percent of interviewees had a relative or
friend present, 14 percent had nobody present, and 4.5 percent had a local
untrained midwife present. According to the report, an estimated 78 percent
of maternal deaths could be prevented by increasing the presence and
availability of trained birth assistants and midwives.
The report also finds that girls in Afghanistan are severely disadvantaged.
Despite overwhelming attitudes and acknowledgement that schools are
available, just over two-thirds of respondents reported sending their
children to school. Girl children are much more likely to be kept home than
boys. Some 22.5 percent reported that their girls never go to school, which
is almost double the rate of boys who do not attend school. Nearly
three-quarters of interviewees reported sending boys to school regularly,
while less than two-thirds of parents sent girls to school regularly. Child
marriage also continues to be a problem. About 12 percent of interviewees
responded their children were married before the age 16. Of those married
young, 84.7 percent are girls.
Perhaps most surprisingly, 78.8 percent of interviewees reported feeling
positive about the future despite the present conditions. Respondents said
that job opportunities, safe drinking water, and improvement of health
facilities were their main priorities.