Afghan cinematographer and former actor Husna Sadat has died in circumstances that people close to her say warrants investigation, but her death is being reported by Taliban-controlled media outlets as a suicide.
Taliban sources and media controlled by the group say Husna died last week after she got drunk and threw herself from the fourth floor of her home in Kabul.
Her untimely death and the reason given by Taliban authorities has reignited concerns that violent deaths of girls and women are not being properly investigated.
The death of prominent Afghan YouTuber Hura Sadat in August sparked similar concerns. At the time, the Taliban police spokesperson in Kabul Khaled Zadran said Hura was poisoned at a party and died. Two people, including a woman, were arrested in connection with the incident.
Civil and women’s rights activists, who asked not to be named for security reasons, are accusing the Taliban of being involved in the deaths or in covering up for those who perpetrated them.
Activists point to reports that families of victims, including Hura and Husna’s families, are warned by Taliban officials to not do media interviews, and in some cases are forced to make recorded statements dictated by the Taliban about the deaths.
Husna with her daughter
A source close to Husna Sadat’s family has told Rukhshana Media that those who knew the cinematographer suspect she was murdered.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Husna’s hands were injured consistent with signs of self-defense and she had bruising akin to being beaten on her neck, back, and sides of her torso. There was also blood inside her home on her mattress and carpet.
“She was not someone who wanted to commit suicide and leave her children alone,” the source said.
The source said Taliban officials have told Husna’s family to tell reporters Husna had a severe mental health problem and consumed alcohol, got drunk, and threw herself from the window.
The source, who claims she was in contact with Husna until late on the night of her death, said the husband should have been interrogated and other possibilities should be investigated.
“Husna had just done laundry. Her husband’s cousin was also a guest at Husna’s house that night,” she said, adding that she had witnessed abusive behavior by Husna’s husband in the past.
The source said Husna’s neighbors have said that on the night of her death, Husna was heard screaming for help for about an hour.
In the early hours of December 1, Husna’s mother was telephoned to come to Husna’s house around 4am, the source said. When her mother arrived, she encountered Husna’s broken body on the ground outside the house.
Rukhshana Media has not been able to communicate with Husna Sadat’s family due to warnings from the Taliban to not discuss the matter.
Husna was originally from the Nulaba area of Panjshir province’s Rakha district. She graduated from high school and went on to act in a number of movies. More recently, she worked at Khurshid TV, a local network in Afghanistan. She has two daughters Setayesh, 9, and Niayesh, 7.
Husna had gone to Iran after the Taliban took control of the country in 2021 but returned to Afghanistan after financially struggling due to unemployment.