The Taliban have asserted that they are enforcing “true Islamic” law and that all those living under their control are safe; however, Afghans have reported that the Taliban have broken laws and threatened their safety, security, and integrity over the past 19 months. Furthermore, they have infringed upon people’s privacy and committed sexual offenses, and there is no judicial system in Afghanistan to prosecute them. Recently, two people affiliated with the Taliban sexually assaulted a woman and her two daughters, prompting Amnesty International to call for the prosecution of those responsible. Afghans have also reported that people have been left homeless, and that access to justice is not available in Afghanistan. This report will provide a brief overview of the sexual assaults committed by the Taliban’s commanders and their unlawful activities.
Local sources informed Hasht-e-Subh that two armed Taliban had sexually assaulted a woman and her two daughters in Khanaqa village in the Sozma Qala district of Sar-e-pul on February 28. Sources allege that two armed Taliban, identified as Nadir and Tahir, had raped the woman along with her two daughters, who were 12 and 14 years old. According to the sources, the perpetrators are the niece of the Taliban’s governor in Sar-e-Pul, the northern province of Afghanistan.
On International Women’s Solidarity Day, March 8, Sayed Anwar Sadat, the former Minister of Labor and Social Affairs and Parliament Member representing Sar-e-Pul Province during the Republic Regime, posted a video of a woman’s pleas and accusations on his Facebook page, claiming that the Taliban Governor’s relatives were responsible for the family’s assault. Along with the video, he posted the following message: “Today, March 8, is the International Women’s Solidarity Day, and everyone is busy congratulating women. When should we congratulate women? In Khanaqah District of Sare-e-Pul Province, two terrorists and monsters associated with the Taliban raped a woman and her daughters in her home.”
Social media has extensively reported on this video recording, in which the female victim alleges that the Taliban bound her hands and feet and subjected her to sexual assault throughout the night.
In a social media video, a mother and her two daughters can be seen weeping. Both male and female voices speaking Uzbeki can be heard in the background, expressing grief and anguish as they recount the tragedy. The woman, her voice breaking with emotion, begins to cry as she explains what happened: “My dog started barking around 11:00 at night. I went outside to investigate, but I saw nothing. So, I went back inside, closed the door, and went to bed. Then, they knocked on the door again, and I told my daughters to go and see who it was.”
The victim continued to weep as she recounted her sorrowful tale. “They kept pounding on the gate, demanding that we open it. As soon as we opened it, they assaulted us and raped us. They violated the girls before they got to me. ‘They switched off the electricity when I switched it on’, the victim said, causing everyone on the video call to feel grief-stricken. This tragedy occurred shortly after the Taliban publicly punished nine women in Sar-e-Pul Stadium on February 21, accusing them of engaging in extramarital relations.
This is not the first instance of rape or of a woman describing her dire circumstances under the Taliban’s rule. After restricting and denying women participation in all aspects of society, the Taliban have forced women and girls into marriage in multiple provinces, where they have habitually beaten women in public and accused them of engaging in extramarital affairs and using the telephone.
Several Taliban commanders and fighters have been accused of assaulting women on multiple occasions. In the Roye Do’aab district of Samangan province, two of the Taliban allegedly sexually assaulted two girls before killing them two months ago. On December 24, local sources informed Hashte-e-Subh that two bodyguards of Mullah Shamshad, the Taliban district governor in Roye Do’aab, had raped two girls in Surkh Qala village before beheading them in front of their families. One of the Taliban members who is believed to have sexually attacked these girls was Qari Anas, who reportedly took a memorial picture with the victim before killing her. Qari Anas and his partner, who served as guards for the Taliban’s district governor, were released from prison, although they had been arrested while committing the sexual assault.
The Taliban have been accused of numerous sexual assaults over the past 19 months, despite the restrictions placed on women. Some of these victimizations have been reported in the media, while other violent and frightening cases have not been disclosed due to deeply entrenched traditions in Afghanistan and the people’s fear of the Taliban.
Six months prior, one of the Taliban’s commanders allegedly sexually assaulted a woman following protests in the northern province of Faryab. Sources informed Hasht-e-Subh that Mawlawi Sharif, the Taliban’s second district commander, had allegedly raped a 29-year-old woman in his office on Friday, September 2, 2022, in Maimana, the center of Faryab province. According to the local sources, Mawlawi Sharif had invited the woman to his office under the guise of an inquiry before committing the assault.
Despite punishing people for disobeying Islamic law, Taliban commanders and fighters have been regularly accused of sexual assault and other ethical violations. On Friday, November 26, 2022, reliable local sources informed Hasht-e-Subh that numerous members of the Taliban had sexually assaulted a woman and her four daughters, aged between 10 and 18 years old, in Deh Khawak district of Paryan village in Panjshir province. This was also confirmed by the head of the urban court of the Taliban in Panjshir province.
Due to a lack of role of law, the Taliban officials in Afghanistan have sexually assaulted several women. A young girl in Parwan province had previously been raped by one of the Taliban members. Family members of the victim told Hasht-e-Subh that the Taliban member Fazl al-Rahman and his men broke into the girl’s home late at night and raped her. According to local Taliban members in Parwan, a complaint was filed about this case.
Several instances of sexual assault against women have been reported in the majority of provinces in Afghanistan by members of the Taliban. On Wednesday, August 10, 2022, reliable local sources informed Hasht-e-Subh that one of the Taliban commanders, Golzar Gujar, had committed such an assault in the Varsaj district of Takhar province, in a tribal elder’s house, under the guise of inspecting it.
A surveillance video of a woman claiming to have been sexually abused by the Taliban in the early days of the Taliban takeover in Kabul was released, which helped spread information about the city’s 11th district. In the video, she revealed some of her body parts, displaying signs of physical abuse and torture. She stated: “The Taliban requested illegal things. I cannot show you some parts of my body, as they abused me a lot.” She also claimed that her brother was a former member of the intelligence agencies and that the Taliban had approached their home and demanded weapons. Additionally, she mentioned that the Taliban had requested a gun from her. “They intervened and tried to touch my body parts while misbehaving. Then the criminal chief of the 11th district made an illegal request. How much longer must we tolerate the Taliban?”, she said. However, the Taliban released another video of the same woman a few days later, which revealed that the Taliban had forced her to make confessions.
Arresting Taliban Commanders During Extramarital Affairs
Recently, there has been an increase in extramarital affairs among Taliban officials. On Wednesday, March 8, Mawlawi Ziaulhaq Dashti, the Taliban’s director of public health in the province of Farah, was apprehended while engaging in an adulterous act in his office at the provincial health directorate. Prior to this, the Taliban’s head for the environment in the province of Kandahar was also apprehended while engaging in an extramarital relationship.
The media rarely reports on the extramarital relationships of Taliban members and officials. This information is not widely disseminated due to the strict regulations imposed on the media, but the stories that do get published are shocking and numerous. According to local sources who spoke to Hasht-e-Subh, Abdul Mujeeb Mushfiq, the Taliban’s chief of agriculture, irrigation, and livestock for Panjshir province, was reportedly detained by Taliban intelligence on charges of immoral behavior. There are other claims, however, that he was arrested and explosives were found in his house as he was allegedly linked to ISIS.
The case of extramarital relations involving the Taliban is also perplexing. Reports of corruption and infidelity among Taliban officials have emerged in Kandahar, the stronghold of Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada. Approximately two months ago, sources in Kandahar province reported that Nurullah Adel, the commander of the Taliban in Kandahar, had been apprehended while engaging in an extramarital affair.
Human rights organizations have previously expressed their grave concerns about the precarious situation of women living under the Taliban’s control, claiming that the maltreatment of the women constituted “gender apartheid” in Afghanistan. Amnesty International recently called for an investigation following allegations that Taliban members violated family members in Sar-e-Pul Province. On March 10, Amnesty International stated in a newsletter that this case and others like it should be investigated.
Zaman Sultani, a researcher for Amnesty International in South Asia, has stated that the Taliban’s attack on the woman and her daughters is the most egregious violation of human rights to date.
Public Reaction to Allegations of Taliban Sexual Assault
A number of Afghans have informed Hasht–e–Subh that the Taliban do not show respect for the rights and dignity of the people, and that no one is exempt. Ahmadullah (a pseudonym), a resident of Kabul, spoke to Hasht–e–Subh and said, “Nobody is able to speak out against any criminal record of the Taliban members because there is no law. There is no freedom due to the absence of a justice system or judicial institutions. Therefore, the Taliban impose harsher punishments instead of providing justice.”
Sharifullah Mohammadi, a resident of Samangan province, expressed his belief that the Taliban‘s treatment of women is “inhumane“ and went on to say: “The Taliban claim to be defenders of Islam, yet they rape women and children. This is a lie; they have no religious convictions. There is no system in place to hold them accountable. Unfortunately, it is the most vulnerable people who suffer the most cruelty.”
The Taliban have publicly beheaded those accused of extramarital affairs on multiple occasions in the last few months. They have claimed to enforce Sharia–based restrictions on those found guilty of sexual assault, yet several members of the Taliban have been accused of this crime in the past 19 months without any of them facing criminal charges.