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Lifting the veil on Afghanistan's female addicts

Left: A drug addict in Kabul smokes for an additional kick after injecting himself with heroin, Aug. 2007. Image: Saurabh Das / AP
Right: An Afghan woman holds up opium as she attends a counseling session at the Nejat drug rehabilitation center, Jan. 2012. Image: Ahmad Masood / Reuters

Reuters reports: Anita lifted the sky-blue burqa from her face, revealing glazed eyes and cracked lips from years of smoking opium, and touched her saggy belly, still round from giving birth to her seventh child a month ago.

"I can't give breast milk to my baby," said the 32-year-old Anita, "I'm scared he'll get addicted.”

Left: Male drug addicts sit in the detox room at the Kabul Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, Sept. 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Image: Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
Right: Female drug addicts visit the Nejat drug rehabilitation center in Kabul, Jan. 2012. Image: Ahmad Masood / Reuters

While it is not uncommon to see men shooting up along the banks of the dried up Kabul riverbed in broad daylight, women in the ultra-conservative culture of Muslim Afghanistan are expected to stay out of public view for the most part. They often have to seek permission from a male relative or husband to leave their home, and when they do they are encased in the head-to-toe burqa.

No estimates are available on how many women are addicted to opium or heroin. Nejat estimates around 60,000 women in Afghanistan regularly take illegal drugs, including hashish and marijuana. Full story

Left: An Afghan drug addict smokes heroin in the city of Ghazni west of Kabul, Afghanistan. Aug. 2007. Image: Musadeq Sadeq / AP
Right: A woman addict sits cross-legged during a counseling session at the Nejat drug rehabilitation center, Jan. 2012. Image: Ahmad Masood / Reuters

Left: An Afghan policeman stands behind a pile of burning illegal narcotics in Kabul, April 2009.
Right: A drug addict waits for her turn to see doctors at the Nejat drug rehabilitation centre in Kabul, Jan. 2012. Images: Ahmad Masood / Reuters

Left: Afghan farmers work in an opium poppy field in Nawa district of Helmand province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, April 2009. Image: Abdul Khaleq / AP
Right: A drug addict holds her child as she visits the Nejat drug rehabilitation center, Jan. 2012. Image: Ahmad Masood / Reuters

Left: A doctor gives advice to a new detox patient in the Nejat detox program at the Kabul Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, Sept. 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Image: Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
Right: An Afghan doctor explains the use of condoms to a group of women addicts at a counseling session at the Nejat drug rehabilitation center, Jan. 2012. Ahmad Masood / Reuters

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