The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan was all anyone was talking about in August of last year—from the U.S.'s disastrous, deadly withdrawal to the country's nightmarish descent into a quasi-theocracy ruled by hardline misogynist Islamists.
Now nobody's talking about it so much. But rest assured… it is still a nightmare there:
Since leaving the family home in the country's Badghis province four years ago, the Rahmatis have been living in a mud hut with a plastic roof in one of Herat city's slums. Drought made their village unliveable and the land unworkable. Like an estimated 3.5 million Afghans who have been forced to leave their homes, the Rahmatis now live in a neighbourhood for internally displaced people (IDP).
The grim circumstances of displaced Afghanis is made even grimmer by the country's brutal traditions surrounding little girls:
"I was forced to sell two of my daughters, an eight- and six-year-old," she says. Rahmati says she sold her daughters a few months ago for 100,000 afghani each (roughly £700), to families she doesn't know. Her daughters will stay with her until they reach puberty and then be handed over to strangers.
Consider again the unthinkable arrangement here: "Her daughters will stay with her until they reach puberty and then be handed over to strangers."
No, it's not something out of feudal dystopian fiction; it's real life, happening just a plane ride or two away from your home.
The nightmare convention of arranging marriages between grown men and little girls was already present in that country, but families there are now "handing children over at an increasingly young age because they cannot afford to feed them."
The entire country is in the midst of "a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse," the UN claims, while the United Nations ambassador to Afghanistan says it is "experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis of its contemporary history."