The Taliban have reportedly ended the sale of contraceptives in at least two major cities in Afghanistan, using threats and intimidation to further restrict access and erode women’s rights in the country.
“They came to my store twice with guns and threatened me not to keep contraceptive pills for sale,” a store owner in one of the cities told The Guardian. “They are regularly checking every pharmacy in Kabul, and we have stopped selling the products.”
The government has issued no official policy or declaration on the matter, but that allegedly hasn’t stopped Taliban fighters from visiting any store or health care workers in the cities of Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif who would directly provide or promote the use of contraceptives.
The Taliban fighters have reportedly claimed that contraceptive use and family planning are part of “a Western agenda” that aims to control the Muslim population.
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Suhail Shaheen, head of the political office in Doha, told Fox News Digital that he had no knowledge of such restrictions, suggesting they may instead be “a rumor as it happens time and again.”
A midwife, who remained unnamed, said the Taliban had threatened her several times, telling her she was “not allowed to go outside and promote the Western concept of controlling population and this is unnecessary work.”
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Another shop owner told The Guardian that the fighters decreed “items such as birth control pills and Depo-Provera injections are not allowed to be kept in the pharmacy since the start of this month.” The shop owner said he was too afraid to try and sell off his existing stock.
The new policy would be the latest step in a series of actions the Taliban have taken to restrict women’s rights in the country, starting with access to education: The Afghanistan government banned women from university education after telling Fox News’ Trey Yingst that “all citizens of Afghanistan” had the right to education.
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“All citizens of Afghanistan, irrespective of their gender, have a right to education” under the government’s “clear” policy, a Taliban spokesman said in August 2022. The Taliban also restricted access for girls to attend middle school and high school.
Women have also faced exclusion from certain areas of employment as well as public areas such as parks and gyms.
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U.N. Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment by time of publication.
Fox News Digital’s Elizabeth Heckman contributed to this report.