The Deadly Pacifier

I read an article in USA Today (6/05/12) by Bethany Matta called “Afghan women, children held in addiction’s grip”.  This story was truly alarming to me.  She interviewed a woman named Zarghoona from an impoverished Turkmen Village in Afghanistan, a 37 year old mother of five sons and three daughters.  One of her daughters died.  In a country where one in ten children die before age five, often because of preventable illnesses like respitory infection but her daughter died from an overdose of opium.  She told the reporter she fed her daughter a lot of drugs at one time.  It killed her and she did not have money to take her to a hospital.

These women work in the carpet-weaving center in Qali a Zal district and they all are carpet weavers.  The women work from early morning to late in the evening, and keeping the children quiet is necessary for the women to work undisturbed.  The women reach inside their clothing and pull out plastic packets containing raw opium.  They unfold the plastic, roll the sticky opium into a ball and place it in the children’s mouths.  A doctor, Dr. Rahmatuliah who heads the local government council said “when babies are born, on the first day, they (women) grease their navels with fluid of opium, so that the baby does not cry and sleeps well”.  After a few months they begin to give opium to the babies orally.

For those who are hooked, there is little help – there are no clinics for addicts.  As a mother of two children I could never imagine giving opium to my children or any addictive drug.  Where is the world’s outcry for this behavior?  Where is the help for these women and children?  I heard references to mother’s being mentioned throughout this article, what say the father’s?  What do you think about this practice and the lack of accountability of the father’s?

Women weaving rugs with their children


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