‘I was beaten and raped’: Afghan girl accuses senior Taliban leader of assaulting and forcibly marrying her

'I was beaten and raped': Afghan girl accuses senior Taliban leader of assaulting and forcibly marrying her

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In a video posted on social media, an Afghan woman accuses a senior Taliban official, Saeed Khosty, a former spokesman for the Interior Ministry, of raping and beating her.

A young Afghan said in a video posted on social media that a senior Taliban leader beat, raped and forcibly married her. Charges denied by the member of the fundamentalist Islamist regime.

The 25-year-old woman, who goes by the simple first name of Elaha, explains that she was sexually assaulted by Saeed Khosty, a former spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior. Saeed Khosty has denied the assault charges, saying he divorced Elaha after a “consent marriage”. The accusations and their denials are broadcast and shared thousands of times on social media in Afghanistan, where it is rare for such personal details to be aired publicly.

“He filmed me and threatened to publish the video”

In the video posted on Tuesday, Elaha, who calls herself a medical student at Kabul University, tearfully recounts the ordeal she lived through for several months. “I was beaten. I was raped. I didn’t know what to do. He filmed me and threatened to publish the video”, assures the young woman.

Elaha, who claims to be the daughter of a former Afghan general, says she tried to flee but was caught at the Torkham post on the Pakistan border, from where she was taken to a prison from Kabul. She adds that she was then asked to apologize to the senior Taliban leader and was beaten when she refused to do so. It is unknown where Elaha posted this video from and where it is currently located.

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‘The court can punish me’

“She had some issues regarding her beliefs and her faith. I tried to correct her through discussions and advice, but it didn’t work,” the senior Taliban official defended himself in a statement posted on Twitter. “I did not beat her, but using my Islamic rights, I divorced her. I regret my hastily contracted marriage to her,” he continued.

He added that the young woman was free to file a complaint against him. “If my guilt is proven, the court can punish me. If she does not believe in the courts of the Islamic Emirate, then I am ready to go to any court she wishes,” said Saeed Khosty.

“I apologize to the mujahideen (fighters) of the Islamic Emirate and to the nation of Afghanistan. May God forgive me,” Khosty added. After the video emerged, the hashtag #justiceforElaha went viral on social media.

Women in great difficulty

Saeed Khosty has also received support from some Taliban, including on social networks. Last year, Taliban Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada issued an executive order ordering authorities to take strict action against those who “force women into marriage through coercion or pressure”.

The difficulties faced by women have only increased since the Taliban returned to power last year. Islamist fundamentalists have closed secondary schools for girls in many provinces and barred women from many government jobs. They also ordered women to cover themselves fully in public, ideally with a burqa.

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