Mental illness is rampant in Afghanistan

Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi, Hussain Sirat

According to the American Medical Association, around 70 percent of the Afghan population suffers from psychological disorders. Mentally challenged people face discrimination and their families suffer.

“Mohammad! Madman!” the children cry after him. They laugh and make jokes. Mohammad does not know how to answer and shouts back angrily at his tormentors: “Not me! You!” The 16-year-old is just one among many mentally handicapped in trouble-torn Afghanistan. The authorities are not in a position to supply any reliable numbers.

Mohammad lives with his parents and two sisters in one of the poorer areas of Kabul. The whole family suffers with him – when he is restless, his mother orders him out of the house so that she can have some respite. No school will accept him because of his hereditary mental disability – and there are no special schools for people with mental illness in Afghanistan. Continue reading

“Verrückt” in Afghanistan

Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi, Hussain Sirat

Durch Jahrzehnte des Krieges leiden viele Menschen in Afghanistan unter psychischen Störungen. Geistig Behinderte werden diskriminiert. Auch die Angehörigen leiden darunter.

“Mohammad, der Verrückte!”, rufen ihm die Kinder hinterher. Sie lachen und machen Witze. Mohammad ist traurig. Er weiß nichts darauf zu antworten und ruft bitter “Selber!” zurück. Die Beleidigungen sind Alltag für den 16-Jährigen, einen von vielen geistig Behinderten in Afghanistan. Wie viele es genau in Afghanistan gibt, wissen die Behörden nicht. Eine zuverlässige Statistik existiert nicht. Psychische Erkrankungen und angeborene Behinderungen werden von vielen Afghanen gleichgesetzt. Es gibt keine gesundheitliche Aufklärung für Eltern.

Abseits der Gesellschaft

Mohammad lebt mit seinen Eltern und seinen zwei Schwestern in einem ärmlichen Viertel von Kabul. Die ganze Familie leidet mit Mohammad mit. Wenn Mohammad besonders viel Unruhe verbreitet, schickt ihn die Mutter raus ins Freie, um seinen Lärm nicht ertragen zu müssen. Keine Schule nimmt Mohammad wegen seiner geistigen Behinderung auf. Förderschulen gibt es in Afghanistan nicht. Continue reading

Hindus and Sikhs – homeless Afghan citizens

Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi

For hundreds of years, Hindus and Sikhs have lived in Afghanistan. But even after the fall of the Islamist Taliban regime, they face growing discrimination, forcing many to leave.,,16392815_401,00.jpg

Sometimes you can recognize them on the streets, usually because of their black or wine-red turbans and opulent beards. Others look no different from the rest of the pedestrians, aside from the fact that they may be homeless.

Hindus and Sikhs are a religious minority in Afghanistan. But, despite being there for centuries, they are discriminated against for their beliefs. The war years forced many people belonging to these two non-Muslim minorities to leave the country.


Some, however, returned after the Taliban were overthrown. Arandar Singh is one such person. The 50-year-old Sikh was born in Kunduz. He owns a shop and wears a black turban and a long, black beard. Other than that, he wears typical Afghan clothing. Singh sees himself as a part of Afghan society and calls the local residents his brothers. Continue reading

Afghanische Sikhs und Hindus fordern Rechte

Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi

Nach Bürgerkrieg und Taliban-Herrschaft sind etliche geflohene Sikhs und Hindus wieder nach Afghanistan zurückgekehrt. Sie leben dort unbehelligt, werden aber bei der Grundstücksvergabe diskriminiert.,,16392620_401,00.jpg

Wenn sie nicht gerade ihren typischen schwarzen oder weinroten Turban tragen, sind die Angehörigen der Sikhs im afghanischen Straßenbild nicht leicht zu erkennen. Das gilt auch für die Hindus, zwei religiöse Minderheiten, die schon seit Jahrhunderten in Afghanistan leben. In den Bürgerkriegsjahren und unter der Taliban-Herrschaft waren viele von ihnen ausgewandert.

Arandar Singh gehört zu denen, die in den letzten Jahren zurückgekehrt sind. Der Sikh ist 50 Jahre alt und in Kundus geboren. Er trägt einen schwarzen Turban und einen langen, schwarzen Bart und im übrigen die typisch afghanische Männerbekleidung Pluderhose und langes Hemd. Arandar Singh fühlt sich als Teil der afghanischen Gesellschaft und bezeichnet die Bewohner der Stadt als seine Brüder. “Wir werden von der Regierung und von den Bewohnern gut behandelt. Bei unserer Arbeit und im alltäglichen Leben gibt es keine Probleme, und wir erfüllen unsere religiösen Pflichten”, so die Auskunft des Ladenbesitzers. Continue reading

Afghans use social migration as a survival strategy

Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi

Millions of Afghan refugees end up in asylum centers or refugee camps. However, mobility and migration within Afghanistan are also seen as key to defying decades of conflict.

Conflict and migration have shaped daily reality in Afghanistan for the past 30 years. However, migration does not always mean refugee camps and illegal emigration to neighboring states.

At a recent workshop organized by the Center for Development Research at the University of Bonn entitled “Crossroads Asia: The Nexus of Conflict and Migration in Afghanistan,” academics from all over the world discussed the implications for the future.

Conrad Schetter from the center characterized Afghan society as “trans-local,” and explained that the European notion of nation-related fixed abodes was not appropriate in this context. “Afghans do not think about settling in one place but more about profiting from migration. It’s a survival strategy that contradicts the original sense of migration.”

Social migration is less about territory than about mobile networks, Schetter explained. It allows them to live and work in different places; and whether they are located in Kunduz, Islamabad or Amsterdam, they move within family networks that go beyond regional and national borders.

Conrad Schetter and Ingeborg Baldauf

The German academic added that this was a phenomenon he had observed in the fluid border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan for many years.

Home is defined by bloodline

Only a few Afghans say they live in their home village. Ingeborg Baldauf from Berlin’s Humboldt University, has conducted research into the war experiences of Afghans from the north of the country. She explained that for most, the notion of “home” was where their grandfathers lived.

“One of the saddest things the migrants say is that they have lost contact with their forefathers and to their distant past. Mainly because of migration,” she said.

Most people define themselves through their forefathers, Baldauf continued. She explained that a vital reason why Afghans tended to marry within their tribes was that they wished to continue the bloodline connecting them with important forefathers.

Ayfer Durdu and Francois Ümer Akakca from Humboldt University lived with a family in Afghanistan that descended from the cleric Khoja Hayran.

“Two brothers had married off their children together to continue the blood relationship,” they explained. “One father gave his oldest daughter to the son of his eldest brother. Traditionally, the woman then leaves her home to go to where her new husband lives.”

This is also understood as social mobility: Women leave their family of origin and marry into a distantly related family, thus perpetuating the genealogical line. New networks emerge that go beyond borders and those that already exist are consolidated.

Social mobility allows Afghans to change their whereabouts depending on the advantage this might bring to the family or network. This thus represents a little more freedom and autonomy in conflict-ridden Afghanistan. Schetter said migration within already existing social networks was one strategy for defying the war. It is seen by many Afghans as a better alternative than trying to get by in a foreign country without social contacts.

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