International Day in Support of Victims of Torture: Afghan woman shares her ordeal

June 26 marks the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. On this day, an Afghan woman recounts her “harrowing experience of torture by the Taliban”.

As the world commemorates this day, the United Nations continues to highlight severe human rights violations under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. In its latest quarterly reports, the U.N. documented 42 extrajudicial killings by the Taliban.

Furthermore, reports from the Taliban’s Supreme Court indicate that from March 2023 to June 2024, 180 people have been publicly flogged, including both men and women.

One of the victims, Habiba (a pseudonym), shared her ordeal with Amu. Habiba was publicly flogged by the Taliban in Sar-e Pol after being accused of adultery by her ex-husband, who holds considerable influence within the Taliban.

“I was whipped 39 times on my shoulders, legs, back, and head,” Habiba recounted. “Despite my pleas, they wouldn’t let me speak in my defense. Since the flogging, I haven’t been able to sleep. The physical and emotional scars are overwhelming.”

Habiba, a nursing graduate from Herat University, had returned to her hometown of Sar-e Pol at her family’s request.

After divorcing her abusive husband, she was accused of an extramarital affair, leading to her brutal public punishment.

The Taliban has consistently claimed that their judicial and prison systems uphold justice and deny allegations of torture. However, women’s rights activist Parwana Ibrahimkhil, who has also been imprisoned by the Taliban, presents a starkly different reality.

“The violence inflicted by the Taliban, both physical and psychological, still affects me,” Ibrahimkhil said.

“We call on international organizations, especially the International Criminal Court, to address the cases of those who have suffered such abuses.”

Concerns remain that impartial monitoring bodies often lack full access to the Taliban’s processes of arrest, trial, and punishment. In a 2023 report, the United Nations recorded over 1,600 human rights violations in Taliban prisons, including instances of torture—a report that the Taliban has dismissed. As the world marks this day, the stories of victims like Habiba and the ongoing reports of human rights violations in Afghanistan highlight the critical need for action to protect and support those who suffer from such atrocities.