” After posting this video it is possible that no one will see me again, I could die said Elaha Dilawarzai, an Afghan medical student, in a video released on social media on August 30. ” But it is better to die once than to die a thousand times. »
In this video, Elaha explains that her father worked for the intelligence services under the previous Afghan government, opposed to the Taliban. Earlier this year, she continued, the former spokesperson for the Taliban Interior Ministry, Qari Saeed Khosty, forced her to marry. ” He raped me every night “, she says, sobbing. ” Every night he beat and tortured me. She adds that he filmed her, implying sex acts, and threatened to release the videos.
Khosty denied these allegations, saying that he and Elaha had divorced, and accusing Elaha of having ” insulted religious beliefs and practices and the Holy Quran “. He apologized – not to Elaha, but to the Taliban, for marrying without permission. On August 31, a tweet from a Twitter account posing as a Kabul court said that Elaha had been arrested for defaming Khosty.
It wouldn’t be surprising if a Taliban official felt free to inflict a forced marriage marred by allegations of rape, assault and blackmail. The question is how many such cases exist that we cannot know. When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, they systematically dismantled the structures essential to combating violence against women and girls: shelters, legal aid programs, special courts for enforce the Elimination of Violence Against Women Act 2009… All of that is gone now.
Journalist Ruchi Kumar has substantiated the facts of Elaha’s case, and added that Taliban officials had also violently targeted other women belonging to the families of former government officials, thus punishing them.
Elaha’s video sparked campaign launch #JusticeForElaha, illustrating again how women and girls in Afghanistan are using social media to tell the world about Taliban abuses. Women’s rights activists have documented the ways in which they protest against these abuses; a woman, Tamana Paryanieven filmed the Taliban storming into her home to arrest her, as part of their crackdown on such activists.
Afghan women are fighting against Taliban rights abuses with extraordinary courage, using all the tools at their disposal. But the world must do more to stand by them. Diplomats in Kabul should urgently inquire about Elaha’s fate and well-being. Member countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council should strengthen the small team of the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan, so that more independent monitors and human rights experts can investigate, report and hold abusers accountable. This would give us a better idea of the real number of women like Elaha in Afghanistan.