Afghan woman says she was raped and forced to marry Taliban official

·3-min read
File photo: A woman clad in a burqa looks at other pieces of Afghanistan's traditional, all-encompassing dress at a store in Mazar-i Sharif, north of Kabul, Afghanistan in 2015  (AP)
File photo: A woman clad in a burqa looks at other pieces of Afghanistan's traditional, all-encompassing dress at a store in Mazar-i Sharif, north of Kabul, Afghanistan in 2015 (AP)

An Afghan woman accused a senior Taliban official of forcing her into marriage and repeatedly raping her in a video shared on social media recently.

The woman who identified herself only by her first name, Elaha, cried as she described being beaten and raped by former Taliban interior ministry spokesperson Saeed Khosti.

In the video, Elaha requested to be rescued from the apartment in Kabul where she claimed the Taliban had confined her.

“These may be my last words. He will kill me, but it is better to die once than to die every time,” she said in the video, which surfaced on Tuesday.

In the video, Elaha identified herself as a medical student at Kabul University and the daughter of an intelligence service general under the previous government.

She said Mr Khosti had forced her into marrying him six months ago, when he still held the spokesman post.

She claimed Mr Khosti tried to marry her sister to another Taliban official, but her family had fled the country by then.

“Saeed Khosti beat me a lot. Every night he raped me,” she said in the video.

Ms Elaha’s video was widely shared on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp groups.

On Wednesday, Mr Khosti confirmed he had married Elaha, but denied any wrongdoing. “I assure you that I have not done anything illegal,” he wrote on Twitter.

Elaha said Mr Khosti divorced her after finding she “has a problem in her faith” and had accused her of insulting the Quran, Islam’s holy book.

The Taliban has allegedly announced that the woman who made the accusations against Mr Khosti has been arrested and will soon be sentenced.

The Independent, however, has not been able to verify this response to the video, including the woman’s arrest.

A Twitter page that purportedly belongs to the Taliban-run Supreme Court on Wednesday tweeted that Elaha had been arrested for defamation on the orders of chief justice Abdul Hakeem Haqqani.

Without mentioning any trial taking place, the tweet said she would “soon be sentenced according to Sharia law”.

“No one is allowed to harm the name of Mujahideen or defame the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the 20-years of holy jihad,” it added.

Another Twitter page that also claims to be for the country’s Supreme Court that was apparently created last month, claimed in a post Thursday that the tweet was fake. This discrepancy could not immediately be resolved.

Amnesty International campaigner and women rights activist Samira Hamidi said in a tweet that “the testimony of Elaha, a medical student, about her forced marriage, rape, and torture by a powerful armed Talib is shocking reality of what dozens of women and girls are facing.”

She called on the UN to “immediately act to save her”.

Human Rights Watch, in a statement on Thursday, identified the woman as Elaha Dilawarzai, and said “it would be no surprise for a Taliban official to feel free to inflict forced marriage, rape, assault” and that the Taliban have “systematically dismantled structures to combat violence against women and girls”.

Senior HRW official Birgit Schwarz wrote on Twitter: “#Afghan women like Elaha Dilawarzai are fighting back against Taliban rights violations with extraordinary courage, using every tool at their disposal. The world needs to do more to stand beside them.”