By Musa Khan Jalalzai
The ooze remains. Notwithstanding the presence of 49 civilised nations in Afghanistan — those advocating women rights in their own states, the painful story of Afghan women subjected to sexual harassment, torture and authoritarian treatment has not yet changed. In fact, women in Afghanistan are being burnt, tortured, harassed and traded with commodities, sold like goats and treated like dogs. Their torture and sexual abuse in workplaces, prisons, private jails, police stations, homes, streets, in armed forces barracks, and government offices in all the major provinces of Afghanistan continue with impunity. On 17 December 2016, a gunman killed five women officers in Kandahar airport; no one regretted but said they needed to serve their husbands at home.
In 2016, the amount of sexual abuse and violence culminated while the culture of entering marriage with two or three sisters at one time has become a national shame. Unfortunately, in Northern Afghanistan, women and girls are facing countless challenges including forced abortion, forced prostitution, the demand for illegitimate sexual acts, husband’s extramarital relations, and forced watching of pornographic films. Last week, a female Afghan pilot, Miss Nelofer Rahmani claimed asylum in the United States and refused to return to her country due to her fear of persecution. She hammered the leadership of Afghan national army for harassment and sexual abuse. The unity government is a conglomeration of different war criminals, private militias, and ethnosectarian mafia groups who have been involved in war crimes, sexual abuse and male prostitution during the last 30 years’ civil war.
Captain Nilofer Rahmani, who was a first female pilot to serve her war-torn country’s air force, refused to return to Afghanistan because she is “scared” of her life as she and her family received death threats from war criminals, Taliban, and the ISIS. “I would love to fly for my country — that is what I always wanted to do. But I am scared for my life”, she told Wall Street Journal. On her return to Kabul, experts say, Miss Nelofer may possibly face torture and humiliation or may be killed like Farkhanda Malikzada who was tortured to death last year in Kabul. Miss Farkhanda was severely tortured by a number of extremist elements, and her face bloodied; she tried to stand, holding her hands to her hair, looked horrified to find why she was being tortured. The mob closed in, kicking and jumping on her chest again and again, and finally, she was brutally killed in broad daylight. Deputy Director of Asia wing at Human Rights Watch, Phelim Kine warned that due to the inattention of the Afghan government to protect women from moral crimes persecution underlined the glaring gap between its intention and rhetoric.
On 25 October 2015, Afghanistan Analyst Network in its paper reported 19 years old girl Miss Rukhshanda was stoned to death in Feroz Koh district of Ghor province. She was married to a disabled man at the age of 13, but she ran away to seek refuge in the police station, but unfortunately, police arrested her and handed over to her father. After two months, her father married her off to another man, but she again ran away to Marghab district. This time she was kidnapped by a local commander Mullah Yusuf for ransom, and demanded 5 million rupees. When her father failed to purvey the fixed amount, the Mullah ordered his militia to stone her to death. On 20 November 2015, a 26 years old girl, Shirin Gul was tortured to death. On 28 December 2016, a woman was reportedly beheaded by extremists after being found in a market without her husband. This incident occurred in a Taliban-controlled Sar-e-Pul district.
On 29 November 2016, in Jalalabad province, a woman told the head of the department of women affairs that her husband tortured her in the first night of their marriage and accused her of losing virginity, and then went to her father house and forcefully married her younger sister as well. These incidents proved that Afghanistan is a dangerous place for women where they are unable to breathe in the open air or go shopping without their husbands. However, on 13 December 2016, Afghan Minister of Women Affairs, Delbar Nazari told journalists that more than 87 percent of women in Afghanistan were not safe. “Deprivation has caused a lot of threats for women across the country, we have witnessed bitter events including poisoning, throwing acid on girls, sexual abuse, the immolation of a woman and young girls, stoning and rape allegations and accusations of them running away from home,” said Nazari. During the last six months, more than 5,000 cases of sexual assaults were registered by the police. However, Afghan Ministry of Women Affairs during the last nine months recorded more than 4,000 cases of violence against women. The journey of Afghan women is full of miseries, wretchedness and inflicted pain.
Adult and young children are also facing shameless business of sexual abuse and practice of Bachabazi (male prostitution). Warlords and war criminals in all parts of Afghanistan hire male prostitutes to become their dancing boys and gay friends. There are numerous accounts of Bachabazi in world media that diverted the attention of authorities to the vulnerability of homeless and orphan children whose parents were killed in civil wars. In the tail-end of this debate, I want to highlight a single incident of Bachabazi occurred on 14 December 2016 in Jowzjan province, where known war criminal and Vice President of Afghanistan, General Rashed Dostum sexually abused a former governor Mr Ahmad Eshchi. He (Mr Eshchi) told journalists that Vice President and his ten cronies sexually assaulted him, raped him and kept in a private jail for five days. This shameless incident painted a transmogrified picture of the Afghan nation in the international community. Both European Union and the Unites States called for a thorough investigation and the war criminal and Vice President of Afghanistan.
Musa Khan Jalalzai is author of Fixing the EU Intelligence Crisis.