By Zahra Nader
After a video went viral of an anonymous Afghan woman describing how the Taliban captured her and pressured her for sex, the Taliban released a video purportedly showing the same woman denying the claims.
The Taliban ministry of interior released a confessional video of two women and a man, who were arrested by the Taliban on Saturday concerning the viral video.
In a video posted on social media on Thursday, November 11, a woman who covered her face in a niqab, claims she is a sister of a former government soldier. “The Taliban came and searched our house,” said the woman who showed bruises on her shoulders and her back in the video. “They took me to the police station like a dog… The director of the criminal investigation unit of police district 11, asked me for sex, when I rejected, they lashed me… they lashed me to the point I could barely gasp air.”
But on Saturday, a new video appeared, this time released by the Taliban themselves.
“The Emirate treated us very well, we feel we are at our own home. I regret my action,” said a young woman who introduced herself as Arezo in the confession video released by the Taliban, using the name the Taliban call themselves. “From my heart, I apologize to the Emirate because of my action and my mistake.”
Arezo, who appears to be in her 20s, claims to be the woman in the viral video, retracting the earlier claim on the video that she was tortured by the Taliban. She said the bruises shown in the viral video are caused by her husband, not the Taliban.
The two contrasting videos underscore the ability of social media in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan to both hold the new regime to account and allow the group to attempt to control the narrative.
“My wife’s claim that Emirate beat her is not true. The signs of the beating and torture on her body is my job,” said the man, sitting beside Arezo in the confession video, claiming to be her husband.
In the confession video, Arezo claims she was tricked by her friend to record the video which would help her get asylum.
The second woman in the Taliban custody claims to be Wasima, Arezo’s friend who “tricked” her into recording the video and sharing it with the media. “The girl came to me with her story and I believed her, but later I understood her story wasn’t true,” Wasima said in the confession video. “I apologize to the Emirate brothers. We made a mistake, we will not repeat it.”
Social media users in Afghanistan disputed the Taliban confession video, saying the woman in the first video is not the woman the Taliban arrested. The accent, tone of voice, and age are some of the differences Afghan social media users have highlighted.
It appears that the confession video was edited before it was released to the public.
“The voice and eyes are the same. Her husband confessed after we arrested the woman that they made the video for an asylum case,” Saeed Khosty, the Taliban spokesperson for the interior ministry, told Rukhshana Media, adding the women would remain in custody until the court makes a decision.