May 16 2023 (IPS)
In October 2021, Alia Azizi left her office in Herat province after receiving a phone call from a Taliban official and never returned home. She remains missing.
When her husband went looking for her, the Taliban told him to organize a Fatiha – a prayer meeting – for her instead, and warned him not to make noise about his wife’s disappearance in the media, according to Independent Farsi, a newspaper.
The response from the government was indication that she had been killed and due to fear of the Taliban, the family’s search for the missing woman was abandoned.
Women are routinely tortured and raped in detention centres but these go unreported because the Taliban has placed a ban on the media reporting on such crimes. For instance, there were signs of torture and rape on the bodies of two murdered teenagers when they were found
Similarly, a group of young girls were arrested in Mazar-e-Sharif for protesting against Taliban and nobody knows their whereabouts. The Taliban have unleashed a reign of terror on the people of Afghanistan since they seized power for the second time two years ago.
Women are routinely tortured and raped in detention centres but these go unreported because the Taliban has placed a ban on the media reporting on such crimes.
For instance, there were signs of torture and rape on the bodies of two murdered teenagers when they were found. One was 17-year-old Maryam from Balkh district, and the other was 14-year-old Golsar, from Andkhoi Faryab district. The Taliban maintains a deafening silence on the affair.
The Taliban have also organized mass public floggings in stadiums across the country viewed by hundreds of people. In these public floggings, even children can receive up to 60 lashes for committing petty theft.
In December last year, according to Salamwatamdar, a newspaper, the Taliban flogged 17 men and 10 women in Charikar stadium, Parwan Province, in the presence of hundreds of people.
This was confirmed by president of the appeals court in the province, Mohammad Qasim Mohammadi, who admitted that the victims were given up to 39 lashes for engaging in illicit relations and theft.
These public whippings, which are against international human rights law and not recognized in canonical law, go unreported because journalists are not allowed to video or take photos of these public events.
In spite of the wish of the Taliban to maintain a veil of secrecy over the atrocities, evidence do sometimes emerge. The Etilaatroz newspaper, for instance, has obtained an audio tape in which Maulvi Aminalhaq, head of the city court in Panjshir province, confirmed six members of the Taliban having sexually assaulted a woman.
“The allegation that the members of this group assaulted a woman in Khawak Panjshir is true,” Aminalhaq admits in the audio tape.
The case was investigated, and the men were arrested, according to Aminalhaq. Nevertheless, in the face of this evidence, the Taliban has maintained silence and nothing further is known about what happened to the perpetrators of the crime.
The government’s silent response is attributed to the exclusion of women in the cultural, social, and economic affairs of the country, according to experts in the country.
This treatment and the consequent lack of response is considered direct “Talibani” violence, which is quite unfortunate, observers say, with some lamenting, “woe to the voiceless voice of Afghan women”.
The author is an Afghanistan-based female journalist, trained with Finnish support before the Taliban take-over. Her identity is withheld for security reasons.