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Taliban stories Excerpted from conversation with four midwives at Rabia Balkhi March 23, 2006

Posted by Linda Barnes in Afghanistan, Midwifery.

“While the Taliban was in control women had a very hard time coming to Rabia Balkhi, especially at night. There were no medications and no electricity was available and we had to take care of women using candles. One night a woman came who had preeclampsia. We had no medicine and had to watch the mother while she had an eclamptic seizure and both the mother and the baby died right in front of me.”


“I was living in Jalalabad during the Taliban time and I was living in the town. Most women had their babies at home and sometimes I was called by one of the relatives of a mother if her birth was difficult. One night I was taken to a house where a mother was having twins. The first baby came okay, but the second baby was breech and also had a meningocele (sometimes seen as Spina Bifida) that prevented the baby from being born. I had to cut the meningocele open and the baby died.”



“One night one of our midwives (H.) came to the hospital very sick. She came alone because her husband and two children had been killed. She lay in the courtyard outside the hospital because she was very poor and the Taliban would not let her in the hospital unless she paid them money. She needed blood and had no one to give blood to the blood bank so she could not get a transfusion. We midwives each donated blood so that she could get transfusions and she lived and is here with us today.”

“During the Taliban the midwives were the only ones in the hospital, especially at night, as most doctors left Kabul City and were hiding in their homes in the country or had left the country. We had no pay for five months but we came to work every night. Now that the doctors are back they don’t respect us for what we did while they were hiding. Now they think we should not attend deliveries and that we should just clean instruments and the floors. When the Americans bombed Kabul and drove the Taliban out we were all very afraid for our children who we had to leave at home when we came to the hospital. One of my children was killed in the bombing and I didn’t know about it until two days later because I couldn’t leave the hospital. I still have three children.”



1. Theresa O'Malley - November 11, 2007

I am a RN in Michigan, USA. I work in L&D, Post Partum, Nursery, with 8 years in NICU.
If there is a place for me in Kabul let me know.

2. M.R - October 26, 2009

I am a second year midwifery student,Sydney australia. i read your story it was very sad. I hope i can help my nation one day and work as midwife and improving women’s health in Afghnistan.

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