“The urgency of emergency aid in Afghanistan is real and it is now, women are selling their bodies and organs to put food on the table, we cannot sit back and let this continue.” Sunny Bahia, Forgotten Women
The rise of poverty is leaving more and more women across northern regions of Afghanistan turning to sex work in order to escape the grinding poverty. In households where a male is no longer alive or is unable to provide due to injury and illness, the women will then have to find ways to feed her family members from her children to her elderly parents. Undercover sex work and begging is the only options for survival. Many women have been forced to sell their daughters as young as 4 to men in order to feed themselves and their children. The choice is not easy but when you are facing continuous starvation, desperation sets in and selling your child for even $500 becomes the only option. The UN have reported that there are almost 24 million people in Afghanistan of which 60% of the population, suffer from acute hunger. As many as 8.7 million Afghans are struggling with starvation.
“Some of these women have 7,8,9 or more dependents, knowing their survival is in your hands is a lot of pressure and enough to make any woman turn to extreme measures.” Cho, Forgotten Women
WHAT WE ARE DOING
We are the first female led charity to deliver emergency safe aid on the ground to women, we only allow women to women contact to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable women.
1. Emergency food pack £50 family of 6 / 1 months, 10 families £500, 20 families £1000
2. Food Truck: £8,500 (170 families)
3. Long term solution of a business set up is £1000: This will create independence for a woman so she does not need to look to sell her children to feed her family. The women of Afghanistan need this opportunity. We believe in our hand-up policy and do not want women to be dependent on handouts every month.
The accounts from the ground are real, we are working with women like Hanifa, Tahira, Sonya and Shamsi. Please do take a moment to read, the raw reality of poverty these women face.
“Somebody came to our home to buy my daughter, when he saw her, he offered me $500. I intended to sell my daughter as we have no food.”
“My name is Tahira, I have 4 children. Our life is very difficult, my husband died 6 months ago which was very hard on us. I pay $15 for this little room and some extra for utilities, I loan groceries from the local shopkeeper because I can’t afford to buy food, the children get sad If I don’t cook, they become depressed. A neighbour used to buy us a loaf of bread but after some time, he said he can’t afford to buy bread anymore – we are just surviving.
Somebody came to our home to buy my daughter Mahnaz who is 4, when he saw her, he offered me $500. I intended to sell Mahnaz, I told him I would like to see her sometimes. He said after I give the money then you will never see you daughter again which took me back. My sister did not let me sell my daughter, I told her I have no choice but to sell her. We haven’t eaten anything for 3 days, she said start begging at people’s doors, I said I have been begging on the streets for 6 months, but nobody helps.I went to the doctor as I have not been feeling well, my little daughter was saying please sell me and get the money and cure yourself. I cried and said I must die before that ever happens.”
“When I lost my daughter, I could not afford a taxi to bring her body home from hospital.”
“My name is Hanfia and I have six children. I lost my husband and my daughter in a suicide attack which was hard to deal it. I do the odd jobs like laundry and wash people’s clothes and carpets to earn money. The job is very hard on my body, I get severe back pain and it hurts even when I turn my head to the side. I must be a working mother; my son is ten years old, he works on the streets and washes cars. We do not earn enough money to buy food, most nights we go to sleep hungry. When I wake up in the morning, my child will ask for food, the other child will say, “Mum, my hands and feet are freezing,” I try to go out and find some discarded shoes and clothes from the streets to heat our home.
There is never much in the house to cook for them. I asked my neighbour to help us with a bowl of flour, they didn’t even open their door. I pay $20 for this room that does not have any water or electricity. The landlord gave me notice that we would have to evacuate here within 15 days and I have nothing to pay the rent with. When I lost my daughter, I could not afford a taxi to bring her body home from the hospital. Every taxi was demanding $10 because of the dead body. I was begging and crying telling them that I will hold the body in my arms. I have small children and one of them is disabled. My daughter lost her sense of hearing. My son has got mental problems. I do not want to lose my children; it is enough that I lost my lovely daughter.”
“My children complain all the time, they say other people cook big, yellow and peeled potatoes, unlike us, small, dark, with peels. I answer how could I peel them? They are already too small.”
I am Shamsi, and I have four children. My husband went to Iran because he could not find a job here. He wanted to work there to provide a living. We waited for him for over a year but he has never returned home. It has been four years since I am a single mother and providing for my children. It is very hard to live in Afghanistan, before it was a bit better as I could find work here and there but now there is no work, everything has become static. There is a hospital I used to work in as a part-time janitor, even they cannot afford to give me a job. Sometimes they offer me to wash some patients’ clothes and bedsheets. On a good week I will be paid $2. I buy food for my children with that money, which is not sufficient for us. I cannot afford to heat my home. I cannot afford to feed my children. One small container of cooking oil is $1.50.
I cannot even afford to buy a loaf of bread. Two or three days a week, I buy some small potatoes or low-quality rice and boil it. My children complain all the time, that others cook big, yellow, and peeled potatoes, unlike us, small, dark, with peels. I reply how could I peel them? They are already too small. One of the neighbours kindly gave us a heater as it gets very cold at night. Unfortunately, we cannot buy wood to heat our home. I send my sons to collect plastic bottles from the streets. We burn plastic bottles to heat the water. They say why you wake us up in the mornings to go to streets and collect plastic bottles, whereas many others send their children to school and club. Life is very difficult, and I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel.
We have always been people of honour and I hate myself for having to beg but I have no choice.
I am Sonya, I have three children and I am a widow. My children work on the streets as beggars (Spandi). We have no other choice but to beg on the streets, I sit at the mosques gates and beg. No one would say I am a prostitute as I go out daily, they all know that I am a beggar. I feel I am the most miserable woman in the world, because as far as I remember, I have never seen a good day. We have no flour, sugar or tea at home, we have nothing to eat. We struggle a lot to find even a morsel to eat one time a day.
I would be thankful to anyone who helps us in this situation. Whoever helps us, God will give them in return. The landlord wants the home rent on time, grocery expenses, bills etc. I often worry about how I will pay everything. The cycle will continue as my children do not go to school, they get up at sunrise and return at 9pm, a day of begging they earn 45p a day. I want a bright future for my children. I want them to go to school and get educated. I try hard to fulfil all their needs and take care of them, unfortunately, I cannot do anything for them because I am a woman. God has taken their father from us, if he was alive, they would never be in such misery today. We have always been people of honour and I hate myself for having to beg but I have no choice.
The women of Afghanistan needs your help today with emergency food aid and longer-term aid.
1. Emergency food pack £60 family of 6 / 1 months, 10 families £600, 20 families £1200
2. Food Truck: £8,500 (170 families)
3. Long term solution of a business set up is £1000, this will create independency for a woman so she does not need to look to sell her children to feed her family.
The women of Afghanistan are in need your help today with emergency food aid and longer-term aid.
Watch the full accounts by clicking HERE