A young woman accused a former Taliban official of assaulting, raping and forcing her to marry him.
In a video message shared on social media on Tuesday, August 30, Elaha Delawarzai said Qari Saeed Khosti, the Taliban’s former spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, first raped her in an intellegence agency office where she was held in custody, then forcing her to marry him.
“I was beaten a lot,” she said, covering her face with both hands while crying. “I was raped there, I didn’t know what to do.”
“Saeed Khosti filmed me, and threatened to publish it,” added Delawarzai, who is a student at Kabul Medical University.
Delawarzai added she tried to flee Afghanistan to Pakistan but she was detained at Torkham border pass. The Taliban forced her to “apologize” and “kiss” Khosti’s feet after she was caught at the border.
Delawarzai’s video went viral quickly, with many Afghans on social media, voicing support for her and condemning the “rapist” Khosti.
Khosti denied the accusations. He said the marriage was consensual, and that the proposal came from Delawarzai six months ago.
“I haven’t hit her,” he said in a tweet. “Using my Sharia (legal) rights, I parted ways with her, and divorced her.” He added Delawarzai insulted Islamic values, an accusation that could put her life at risk under the Taliban government.
Saeed Khosti isn’t alone. Many Taliban officials have married for the second, third and fourth time after the group seized power one year ago, despite their supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhunzada, ordering them to “avoid” marrying more than once.
Recently, Shamsuddin, a Taliban district governor in northeastern province of Takhar, made the headlines after he married two women in the span of one week, despite having a wife.
Many of these marriages involving Taliban officials could have been forced upon women, most of whom live in rural areas, and aren’t as educated as Delawarzai to protest against forced marriage and raise their voice on social media.
A source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Delawarzai was transferred into a safe house after her video went viral.
Delawarzai warned yesterday that she could get killed for sharing the video message.
“No one will probably see me after the publication of this video. I will probably die,” she said, wiping her tears. “But it is better to die once than to die again and again.”