There is not much worse than drugging your own children and using them as props, unless it would be to rent them out for others to use likewise. What on earth can be done for intergenerational abuse of the sort that takes place throughout Afghanistan:
The Afghanistan Human Rights Independent Commission (AHRIC) estimates there are 60,000 child addicts in the country. Opium is the most common drug.
Zainab in her fifties is a self-confessed addict and beggar for the last nine years since her return from Pakistan. She says she has seven children between 5 and 28 years, and the three youngest are addicted to opium. She tells IMC that she gives them "on rent" to beggar gangs. "I give them opium," she explains. "The youngest stays with me, while the other two are given to women who give me half their earnings in return," she adds. It is for the children that people give arms, Zainab thinks. "Otherwise no one will help us," she says despairingly.
Nearly half of Afghanistan's estimated 27 million people live on less than 1 USD a day, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has calculated.
Karima, a mother of seven, is both a street food seller and beggar. What of her husband? He's addicted to narcotics and jobless, she says. "I cook Bulani and sell it in the bazaar. Later in the day I take along two or three of my children, and seek alms near Ashiqan and Arefan shrine, or next to Pol e Kheshti mosque," she says. She admits to giving her children opium, and giving two of them to two other women in her group of beggars who don't have children. "We are 12 women in this area. I take one child and two other women take my 8-year-old daughter and one and a one-and-a-half-year-old son. In the evening, when we are going home, we divide whatever food and money that we have got."
Karima says she earns at least 400 Afs (7 USD) on her own. "I get some money from renting my children," she adds.
Najibullah Babrakzai, a coordinator for child rights at AIHRC, says: "That children sleep from 8 am to 4 pm is evidence they are being given narcotics. It is really a crime." The Commission has raised the issue with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in meetings on beggar children, but "they have paid little attention", he says.
With the mothers' addictions having affected the babies in utero, the children's health was probably already severely compromised, and yet they bear the face of Christ -- each one. Jesus mercy on these poor souls, and let's pray for some sort of intervention that would make a difference.