Afghan women are being imprisoned by the Taliban for “immoral behavior” – including traveling in taxis without a male relative or appearing in photos with male classmates.
Dozens of people have been imprisoned without being charged or tried by a court in shocking violation of promises made to the outside world.
Footage taken by an undercover camera crew inside Herat Central Jail revealed that all of the women interviewed had been incarcerated for minor breaches of strict Islamic law.
Some said they were Taserized and beaten, while others recounted how they were pressured to marry Taliban in exchange for their freedom.
The footage, filmed by British Iranian journalist Ramita Navai for an ITV documentary, showed dozens of women huddled in yards and more than 50 others locked in nearby cells.
British Iranian journalist Ramita Navai presents the documentary which uses undercover cameras to reveal the true conditions of Afghan women living under the Taliban regime
The documentary titled Afghanistan: No Country For Women revealed that Afghan women were locked up for minor breaches of strict Islamic law where many were tasered and beaten.
This comes despite promises that the Taliban had changed and that their Afghan government would defend the rights of girls and women.
The documentary, Afghanistan: No Country For Women, also revealed stories of Taliban fighters abducting young girls from the streets and forcing them into marriage.
A Taliban commander allegedly demanded that a father consent to his daughter’s marriage by pointing a gun to his head.
The film crew discovered that some women had committed suicide by setting themselves on fire or drinking bleach to escape domestic violence after the Taliban, which returned to power in September last year, have closed shelters and charities.
“We are entering a world where women are disappearing, where they are imprisoned without trial, their fate unknown; where girls are taken from their homes and forced into marriage; where women live in hiding, hunted and fearing for their lives and those who speak out risk imprisonment,” Navai said.
“This is the Afghanistan the Taliban don’t want the world to see.”
She investigated the plight of Afghan women in November for ITV’s series Exposure.
It followed the story of a girl, ‘Maryam’, who dreamed of being a director, but disappeared.
Navai discovered that she was incarcerated by Esteghbaarat’s intelligence service in Herat prison. In a letter smuggled out of prison,
Maryam said her friends were arrested for taking a taxi without a male relative. When she went to the police for help, she was arrested.
Maryam wrote. “There were three people interrogating me. They kept tasing me. Describing how a Taliban official checked his mobile phone, she said: “He saw photos of my classmates.
“He started swearing, telling me I was a whore. Otherwise, why would I take pictures with boys? They tasered me two or three times.
They beat me with a gun, then pointed it at my head and said, “Speak the truth.”
She and her friends were released after family members pulled the strings. She then fled to a safe house.
“I don’t know what the future holds for me,” she said. ‘Everything was ruined. I don’t see much hope.
“If I can’t leave Afghanistan, I will have to find a corner and stay there, then pass out.
“If the government remains as it is, there is not a single ray of light here, just darkness.”
Bilal Karimi, the Taliban’s deputy chief spokesman, dismissed all the allegations as “lies”.
Exhibition – Afghanistan: No Country for Women, will screen on ITV at 10.15pm tonight.
Too bad for more freedom… die-hards are making the burqa mandatory in public again
The Taliban has ordered all Afghan women to wear head-to-toe burkas in public.
The move evokes similar restrictions imposed during the religious group’s previous hardline rule between 1996 and 2001.
The decree states that if a woman does not cover her face, her father or closest male relative could be visited by officials, imprisoned or even fired from government jobs.
He says the ideal face covering is the blue burka, which only shows the eyes through a net.
Women should also stay home if there is no important work to be done outside, he adds. Khalid Hanafi, Acting Minister of the Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which replaced the former Women’s Ministry, said, “We want our sisters to live in dignity and security.
An Afghan woman wearing a burka walks with a child in Kabul on April 28
“Islamic principles and Islamic ideology are more important to us than anything else.”
Shir Mohammad from the ministry added, “For all worthy Afghan women, wearing hajib is necessary and the best hajib is chadori.” [the head-to-toe burka] who is part of our tradition and who is respectful.
“Those women who are not too old or too young must cover their faces except their eyes.”
Women’s rights in Afghanistan have been further rolled back since the Taliban regained control last August, despite an initial promise to respect these freedoms.
Women are no longer allowed to travel more than 45 miles without a male relative, are prohibited from appearing in movies and television shows, and are not allowed to work with men or in government.
In March, the Taliban also reneged on its promise to reopen schools to girls aged 11 and over.
The group was ousted in 2001 by a US-led coalition for harboring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but returned to power after the US’ chaotic departure from Afghanistan last year .
In recent months, its leaders have struggled internally as they struggled to move from a war footing to a government.
This turmoil has pitted hardliners against more pragmatic members of the group – particularly on the issue of women and education.
Although universities opened earlier this year in much of the country, classes in many areas have been erratic.
Many Afghans have also been outraged by the decision of some Taliban youths to educate their daughters in Pakistan to circumvent school closures.
Experts say the Taliban fear that enrolling girls over the age of 11 in schools could alienate their rural base.