Afghanistan: Taliban 'bans contraceptive pill' in further bid to control women’s bodies
The Taliban is attempting to halt the sale of contraceptives in two of Afghanistan’s main cities, claiming that birth control is a form of "western conspiracy", according to reports.
Pharmacists in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif were reportedly ordered not to stock any birth control medicines by the hardline group that seized power again in August 2021, said The Guardian.
The Taliban allegedly went door-to-door threatening midwives and pharmacies offering contraceptives to women, reported the British newspaper.
"They came to my store twice with guns and threatened me not to keep contraceptive pills for sale," said an unnamed Kabul store owner.
The Taliban later denied they had banned the sale of contraceptives, dismissing the UK media reports as "fake news".
A spokesperson for the Taliban's ministry for prohibiting vice and the promotion of virtue told The National that he "did not accept" the reports.
No government formally recognises the Taliban government.
There has been no formal public health announcement about banning contraception from the Taliban.
The prohibition of contraceptives was first reported by the Afghan media outlet Rukhshana Media, which said suppliers in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif were told not to replenish their stock.
"Contraceptive tablets were not found in many pharmacies in Kabul," said one Afghan woman. "The pharmacists told me that it is forbidden, so the price has gone up and it is sold secretly."
Rukhshana published a number of other testimonies about women who were denied access to their normal contraceptive methods and forced to pay elevated prices for birth control or abandon it altogether.
Oral contraceptives and other family planning methods have been widely circulated in Afghanistan since the Taliban's last stint in power in 2001.
Following the Taliban's return in 2021, the country has witnessed a repressive encroachment on women's rights, including limiting their freedom of dress, movement and assembly.