Two Dasht-e-Barchi women claim they were raped by Taliban members

Two young women in Dasht-e-Barchi area in the west of Kabul say they were first “kidnapped” by armed Taliban members before being raped but a Taliban spokesman rejected the allegations in a voice note to Amu.

The two women are residents of Dasht-e-Barchi area in the west of the city and hail from the Hazara ethnic group. They don’t want to be named due to threats to their families.

One of the victims is an 18-year-old woman. She was in Grade 11 in 2021 ahead of the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. She is from a poor family who lives in District 13 in Kabul and told Amu that on Nov. 10, 2022, a number of Taliban members abducted her from Golaee area in Dasht-e-Barchi vicinity when she was on the way to a nearby market. She says she was blindfolded and put in a red Toyota Corolla vehicle and taken to an unknown location.

The woman says she was raped by four men.

“I was walking home when four or five members of the Taliban put me in a car. Blindfolded me and covered my mouth and took me to an unknown place. They threatened me not to speak to anyone about this,” she added.

A friend of the woman, who is a doctor, told Amu that she has known the woman for many years and that she was happy and energetic ahead of this incident, “but after the rape, she changed into a stressed, ill and haunted woman.”

The doctor, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the woman is now afraid of everything, is in a very bad state mentally and has thought about committing suicide many times.

The woman also said, “I wanted to commit suicide twice because I am suffering every second.”

“It is not understandable to everyone, except me and hundreds of girls who are being sacrificed for this oppression every day,” she added.

Another young woman told Amu on Nov. 18 that she was raped by “Taliban members” seven months back. She said she has been threatened not to speak about it to anyone, or, her family will be killed.

She said that Taliban members forced her into a police Ranger vehicle in Dasht-e-Barchi area, and drove her away.

“Seven months ago, I was returning from the education center. I got out of the car. One Taliban member came and told me that my outfit was short. But I had a hijab. He asked me to get into the car. I did so in fear. He put something over my mouth and I fell unconscious. I found everything was lost when I opened my eyes. After raping me, he put a gun to my head and threatened to kill my family and then told me to leave,” the woman said.

She said local residents witnessed her abduction by armed people. “Three shopkeepers were only watching. They didn’t say even one word,” she said.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a message to Amu rejected these abduction and rape allegations against Taliban members.

“This issue is certainly impossible. The report is baseless. Under the current situation, some individuals might misuse (the situation), but the Taliban are very sensitive to such matters. We will punish those who commit such acts,” Mujahid added.

A civil society activist, Dilaram, who wants the name she is known by not to be mentioned, said she has witnessed the abduction of women in Dasht-e-Barchi on at least two occasions.

She claimed that Taliban members put the women into cars “by force” – in the two incidents she has witnessed. According to her, the Taliban, under different pretexts, take those women to intelligence departments who are wearing elegant and city-style clothes.

“There is a parking place in Dasht-e-Barchi where I was standing. One woman had on a white, elegant dress. Some individuals were hitting her with guns and the girl was resisting to get into the car. Then two black-masked men got out of a Ranger vehicle, and forced her into the car and took her away,” she explained.

Dilaram said such incidents are happening “daily” but are not reported and that women in the west of Kabul do not want to wear burqas or black dresses; therefore, they are harassed by Taliban members.

A human rights activist in Kabul who wants to be named as R. Moeen in this report accused Taliban members of kidnapping and raping women and robbery. He said that many such incidents, including robberies and extortion, are happening, but the people are too afraid to speak out and are “ashamed”.

A Dasht-e-Barchi resident, Mohammad Reza, 68, who lives with his family in Omid-e-Sabz Township in the west of Kabul, told Amu that such incidents have left him with no option but to learn to drive, to buy a car and take his daughter to a training center and drop her back home every day.

“I was hearing every day that women are being kidnapped and raped. I was afraid,” he added.

He said that another daughter who lives abroad sent him money to buy a car. “One of my daughters is abroad. She told me she will send me money to buy a car and that I need to learn to drive. Now, I take and bring back my daughter every day,” he said.

Another resident of the area said that a month ago, a number of Taliban members abducted two young women from the Nanwaee bus stop in Dasht-e-Barchi area in Kabul’s District 18 and then fled. He said there has been no news of the women’s whereabouts so far.

Another resident of Dasht-e-Barchi said that a year ago, a Taliban member kidnapped her friend in Tank-e-Tel area in Dasht-e-Barchi when she was returning from a training center and forced her to marry him. She added that the woman was not happy with her life and committed suicide two months ago.

Khalid Zadran, a spokesman for Taliban police, did not respond to Amu’s requests for comment about the use of police vehicles by Taliban members and rape allegations.

On Oct. 30, 2022, family of a young woman in Parwan province told Amu that a Taliban member, Fazl ur-Rahman, with the assistance of the Taliban mayor in the province, raided their home in the city of Charikar and raped their young daughter. Taliban officials in Parwan rejected claims that the accused was related to the mayor.

In another case, on Aug. 30, Ilaha Dilawarzai, a woman in Kabul, claimed in a video on social media that she had been forced into marriage and raped by Saeed Khosti, a former spokesman of Taliban for the interior ministry. The woman said she had been “tortured” and “raped” many times by Khosti.

Khosti immediately rejected the allegations by Ilaha and said she married him willingly. He accused her of being “blasphemous” and said that was why he left her.

These incidents have meanwhile come to light as the Taliban start to impose full Sharia law across the country, which was ordered last week by their leader Haibatullah Akhundzada.

This week alone, at least 30 men and women have been publicly flogged, in Takhar and Logar provinces, for various crimes including theft, robbery, running away from home, and moral crimes such as adultery.

The Taliban has in the past repeatedly rejected reports of its members raping and forcing women into marriage.