Screenshot from a video shared by Elaha Dilawarzai on social media.

Woman reveals shocking accounts of abuse and torture by Taliban official

A victim of sexual abuse by a senior Taliban official has revealed shocking accounts of violence and ill-treatment in Taliban detention and accused a scam team of exploiting her plight.

Elaha Delawarzai revealed her story in a series of Farsi tweets on Sunday while some of her revelations were recorded in an undated Twitter Space where she was a speaker.

Delawarzai accused former Taliban Interior Ministry spokesman, Saeed Khosti, of raping her and later forcing her into marriage.

“Qari Saeed Khosti, former Taliban Interior Ministry spokesman and current head of Haqqani Network’s Orphanage Center forced me into marriage after raping me,” The Afghan woman opened up in the tweet. “He brutally tortured, abused, and threatened me. Since I didn’t want to become his sex slave, Taliban authorities imprisoned me to suppress my voice.”

Delawarzai further added that she remained in the Taliban’s prison for six months where she was subjected to ill-treatment by the Taliban captors.

“I remained in the 40th Prison of Taliban’s Intelligence Department between November 2022 and April this year, where I was tortured constantly. The Taliban agents even gave me electric shocks on my gluteus, breasts, and parts of my genitals before forcing me to sign a pledge.” Delawarzai lamented this harrowing account.

The Afghan woman accused the Taliban of forced marriages with thousands of women and girls since their return to power in August 2021. She asserted that the Taliban are imposing their repressive and cruel rules on the “defenseless” people of Afghanistan with impunity while the international community “welcomes them with a red carpet”.

Some of these allegations were confirmed in a report published by Amnesty International in July last year. The report titled “Afghanistan: Death in Slow Motion: Women and Girls under Taliban Rule” documented dozens of accounts of survivors of gender-based violence under Taliban rule who had revealed similar shocking accounts of arbitrary arrests and torture and abuse in Taliban prisons.

For example, one university student who was detained in 2022 told Amnesty International, “I was given electric shocks [with a taser]… on my shoulder, face, neck, everywhere they could… They were calling me a prostitute [and] a bitch… The one holding the gun said, ‘I will kill you, and no one will be able to find your body.’”

She said that like all women and girls detained by the Taliban, her detention would stigmatize her for life. “For an Afghan girl, going to prison is no less than death… Once you enter the door, you are labeled, and you cannot erase it.”

Moreover, Delawarzai accused a few individuals and non-governmental organizations with links to the Taliban’s Haqqani Network of scamming by exploiting her grievances.

In an undated recorded Twitter space, she said an individual contacted her claiming to be a UN employee soon after her release from Taliban prison, but it was a “scam” she later found.

“Someone contacted me introducing herself as an employee of the UN in Afghanistan. She told me that she had informed Richard Bennett about my plight and that I would be provided resettlement assistance,” Delawarzai told the space audience.

“Later, I found about a fraudulent scheme that a scamming team had received over US$ 185,000 from different agencies on my behalf.”

A separate video of Elaha Delawarzai first surfaced on August 30, 2022, when she first accused Khosti of raping her and then forced marrying her. In the video she said she “might die after publishing this video, it’s possible that no one will see me again.” However, Khosti denied the accusation a day later in a Twitter threat saying he and Elaha have divorced and accused her of  “insulting religious beliefs and practices and the Holy Quran.”