A Secret Addiction Among Afghan Women


Torda wants to be a mother. She is living in the Shortapa District of northern Balkh Province. Last year, her pregnancy ended up in a stillborn birth. She almost died during the delivery before her family rushed her to a district hospital. The doctors gave her a stern warning. Next time, if she didn’t make some changes in her life she might die.

Why? Because Torda who has poor nutrition habits, works hard and long hours in the traditional Afghan carpet-weaving industry. To stave off fatigue and pain she uses opium, an addiction that has weakened even more her body. It was her sixth stillborn birth and Torda was desperate to finally deliver a healthy baby.

It is a little known fact that in Afghanistan opium addiction is rampant among rural women and even children. Make no mistake, the drug is taken not as a luxury but out of necessity. A lack of access to health services either due to cultural restrictions or dearth of health centers makes opium the only available painkiller in many areas. Sadly, mothers also use it with their children. They blow back some smoke in their mouth or give them a small piece of opium. Restless children calm down, dazed, allowing their mother to work more. Doctors are worried because giving opium to infants is extremely harmful.

What about Torda? She knew that after six stillborn births her seventh pregnancy was the most dangerous of all and maybe her last chance to have a baby. It triggered something in her mind and she took action. She decided to kick her opium addiction and finally delivered, at 45 years old, a healthy baby girl, setting an example for other Afghan women.

Via irinnews.org – Picture by Parwin Faiz/Irin (not Torda)

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