A woman’s moving video testimony of the horrific abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of her Taliban husband has gone viral and highlighted what a rights advocate says is a ‘shocking’ reality for dozens of women in Afghanistan. The woman, who identifies as Elaha, says she was forced to marry a former Taliban interior ministry spokesman in January, who then raped and beat her for months.
Elaha says she was even forced to kiss the feet of her ex-husband, Qari Saeed Khosty, to ask for forgiveness after she was caught fleeing the country.
CBS News spoke with a friend of Elaha, who confirms her story and says the woman is still desperate to flee Afghanistan.
Elaha identifies herself in the emotional video, https://twitter.com/abushirzad/status/1564571554519851008?s=21&t=YXb6x5jmpMUzlBGF4El4ow by Afghan journalist Abu Muslim Shirzad, as a medical student and daughter of a former general in the Afghan National Intelligence Service, under the US-backed government.
“Saeed Khosty filmed me and threatened to go public. He forced me to do ugly things. He raped me every night. He beat me every night,” Elaha tearfully says in the video, which was first posted to Twitter on August 30. .
She says she tried to flee to neighboring Pakistan but was stopped and arrested at the Torkham border crossing by Taliban officials. She says she was then imprisoned and forced to “kiss him [Khosty’s] feet” to the prison to show regret for the escape attempt and ask for forgiveness.
Khosty, who was removed from his post as Interior Ministry spokesman in March, confirmed his marriage to Elaha in a tweet, but claimed he divorced her after she insulted the Koran, the holy book of islam.
“I married a girl named Elaha at her request,” the Taliban official said. “I noticed that she had a problem with her faith in Islam, and I tried to correct her through counseling and discussions. But it didn’t work, and she clearly insulted the scared and the Holy Quran.”
“I didn’t beat her,” he insisted. “I used my legal rights and got divorced. I deeply regret my reckless marriage and apologize to the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirates. [Taliban] and the Afghan people.”
Khosti confirmed to CBS News that he married Elaha as his second wife in January. He said he currently does not hold any government position within the Taliban regime.
In another tweet, he said that if Elaha “believes in the courts of the Islamic Emirate, she can sue me. If I’m guilty, the court should punish me. If she does not believe in the courts of the Islamic Emirate, I am ready to accompany her to any court. Please do not use the family issue for political purposes.”
Another video that has spread widely among Afghans online, with an unknown recording date, shows Elaha holding a shovel and confronting Khosty, demanding that he leave her house as he threatens and warns her: “I also have armed people with me”.
After the group regained control of Afghanistan in August 2021, many Taliban officials quickly married second and third wives. The issue drew enough negative attention to the new regime to prompt the Taliban’s supreme leader to issue an executive order ordering members to avoid more than one marriage.
Amnesty International activist and women’s rights activist Samira Hamidi said in
that “the testimony of Elha, a medical student, of her forced marriage, rape and torture by a powerful armed Talib is the shocking reality of what dozens of women and girls are facing”.
The testimony of Elaha, a medical student about her forced marriage, rape & torture by a powerful Armed Talib is shocking reality of what dozens of women & girls are facing. @UNAMAnews @SR_Afghanistan @PotzelMarkus must immediately act to save her. She can be harmed further.— Samira Hamidi (@HuriaSamira) August 30, 2022
She called on the United Nations to “act immediately to save her”.
Elaha’s friend told CBS News that the woman, whose bruises are visible in her video account, remains in Kabul.
A tweet from an account with a short story on the social media platform surfaced on Wednesday claiming to be from the Taliban-run Afghan Supreme Court, saying Elaha had been arrested, but her friend and the current Supreme Court said the account and tweet were fake.
“After this video, maybe no one will see me again. I could die,” Elaha says in the video through sobs. “But it is better to die once than to die repeatedly.”
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