Taliban judge confirms Khawak mother raped, but ‘daughters not harmed’

Panjshir province, Afghanistan. File photo.

A top judge for Taliban’s regional court in Panjshir has confirmed reports that a Khawak woman was raped by Taliban security forces members in the province last week but implied that such incidents should not be shared publicly.

In a voice note, obtained by Amu, the judge, Mawlawi Aminulhaq, the head of Taliban’s regional court in Panjshir, says that several suspects had been detained and one had confessed to the crime.

Amu reported on the incident on Sunday after three sources from the local Taliban administration and two local residents confirmed the incident.

Following Sunday’s report, the Taliban’s director of information and culture in Panjshir said the reports were just propaganda and that he was not aware of any such incident.

However, in the voice note, Aminulhaq states otherwise. He said he had been informed about the incident last Friday and on Saturday he contacted relevant authorities including a Taliban military unit and asked for assistance.

“On Saturday, I contacted the commission that I am a member of, and also contacted the Liwa (divisional command center) and asked them to give us four military vehicles to visit Khawak. I kept the issue confidential because I hadn’t visited the scene yet,” he said in his voice message.

According to him, he traveled to the scene of the incident along with Taliban forces. Once at the victim’s house, he went inside. He said he then sent the accompanying forces to arrest the suspects.

“I talked to the man, his wife, and his children. The children are about 6, 5 and even infants. When I went [inside], I summoned the woman. She is a Hazara ethnic from Charkh-e-Falak. I asked her what happened to her,” he said.

Aminulhaq states that the victim told him two Taliban members had entered the family’s home. “They tried to pull my husband out of the house. We got caught in a serious fight with them, but they were stronger, and they forced my husband out of the room,” Aminulhaq quoted the woman as saying.

She went on to tell him that the suspects then came back into the house and hit her with their guns. She said she fell to the floor where she was then raped.

Aminulhaq says in the voice note: “We listened to her. She said that no one touched her daughter or other children. I saw her daughters and her husband. She said that she heard a voice calling on others to not touch her daughter. Her daughter was hiding.”

“This is the truth. I haven’t told anyone before, and I am confessing this to you and giving you the details,” Aminulhaq told the person he sent the voice message to.

Suspects detained

He said after visiting the victim, he then went to the local Taliban military command. There, he “summoned the Kandak (battalion) commander”, who had deployed the suspects to another area.

“The Kandak commander had evacuated them already to Dahan-e-Aabe-Khawak area,” he said.

He also contacted the divisional commander and told him if the suspects had fled the area, he would arrest the Kandak commander.

“He told me that you have the authority to do whatever you want.

I asked the Kandak commander: Where are the guys?

He said: I have detained them.

I told him to bring them to a room. He brought them to the room. When he brought them, I reprimanded them heavily. I told security guys who were with me to take them away, to take away their weapons and to tie their hands behind their backs.

“One of the security guards slapped one of them. We took them to the Liwa base and interrogated them,” he stated in his voice note.

According to him, the suspects did not at first confess but on Monday, one of the suspects spoke out.

“One of them confessed that he had committed the crime, but he said that there had been six people [involved]” but that the others had not been involved in the actual rape.

Aminulhaq said the other suspects were “party to the crime of course, they were watching and securing the area while he was committing this crime.”

He rejects claims however that the children had been raped. He says this was “fake news” and that the children had not been harmed.

Fake news

“Brothers who spread the fake news that something happened to her children and daughters are totally false. I am telling this story with information from within this person’s house,” he said.

He said when the suspect confessed, the decision was taken to immediately implement Hudud “because this is Sharia law and this is a Sharia-based government so the honor of the faith, and the honor of the Islamic government, and that of the people of Panjshir, so Panjshir’s people’s honor is reinstalled.”

Aminulhaq went on to say in his voice message that “those who spread one-sided news are unjust, are infidels, are Jews, are Christians,” and that whoever spread the rumors “are whores themselves”.

He said that the people spreading such rumors will “not create any problems for the military” and will not be helping themselves either.

He stated that when such incidents happen, families should keep it to themselves. “Tell them that you shouldn’t be spreading the news of what’s happening to your moms and sisters in Panjshir. You can share it privately as you are asking me this and I am sharing this with you.”

He also implied that such news should not be shared with the foreign media as it would not help to heal the wounds.

In conclusion, Aminulhaq stated: “My words are not against you, but for those who spread audacity and depravity and dishonor Panjshir are the ones who are from families with no pride and honor.”

Raid on house

Earlier this week, a source from the Taliban’s local administration in Panjshir said that a four-member team had been assigned to investigate the incident.

A former Panjshir MP under the previous government also confirmed the Taliban raid on the house and said the husband is a poor person who moved to Khawak with his family from Baghlan province and that he is a shepherd.

“At midnight, the Taliban knocked on his door first, but when they didn’t open, they broke the door down and forcibly entered the home,” the former MP, who chose to remain anonymous, said.

This comes amid an increase in the number of reports accusing Taliban security members of mistreating women, and in some cases, rape, sexual abuse and forced marriages.

Last week, the European Parliament called the Taliban’s policy towards women gender apartheid.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid neither denied nor confirmed the rape allegations by members of the group, but told Amu they have started a probe into the incident.

“We have started our investigation but we have not reached any conclusion yet,” Mujahid added in response to a query by Amu.