Amid the collapse of the Afghan government and reconquest of the war-torn country by the Taliban, there has emerged a narrative that this is a new and more moderate Taliban than before, one that is willing to respect basic human rights in exchange for international legitimacy and recognition.
But the reality on the ground differs greatly from that narrative, as countless reports have emerged of Taliban fighters committing horrific atrocities against women and girls in Afghanistan, including beatings, rapes, and murders, Breitbart reported.
One particularly ghoulish report cited an alleged Afghan refugee girl named “Muskan” who had reached safety in India and claimed that Taliban fighters were striking terror into the Afghan people by raping women whether they were alive or already dead.
“When we were there, we received numerous warnings. If you go to work, you are under threat, your family is under threat. After one warning, they would stop giving any warning,” Muskan reportedly told India’s News18.
“They rape dead bodies too. They don’t care whether the person is dead or alive … Can you imagine this?” she reportedly added, going on to claim that the Taliban made it clear that a “horrible destiny” awaited any women or girls who had worked for the now-former Afghan national government.
Females at risk
Similar assertions were made in a report from India Today from an Afghan woman named Shabana Basij-Rasikh, who had founded the only all-girls boarding school in Afghanistan but was now taking drastic steps to try and protect the women and girls that attended and worked at that school.
Citing the known atrocities committed by the Taliban, Basij-Rasikh revealed that she had burned all of the records at her school in order to protect the identities of those who had attended. Ironically, the Taliban had also burned the records of female students when they had first risen to power decades ago, albeit not to protect those students but to symbolically erase their existence.
The actions of Basij-Rasikh to protect her female students were likely critically necessary in light of a report from Sky News citing British politicians claiming to have received and seen evidence of Taliban fighters shooting, beating, raping, and even running over Afghan civilians attempting to flee the country.
In a recent letter from Labor Party leaders to the British government, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was urged by his oppositional “shadow” counterpart Lisa Nandy that hundreds of people “have been beaten at checkpoints or turned away — some with young children” when attempting to approach the Kabul airport to be evacuated.
She also shared reports of “of people being shot at, beaten and raped while they wait to be called forward” from the massive crowd that has gathered outside the airport.
Illusory “moderate” Taliban
All of those reports and more stand in stark contrast to an Associated Press report last week regarding claims that the Taliban now in control was a more moderate version that had vowed to respect women’s rights and allow them to attend a school or be employed — albeit within the confines of the strict Islamic law that governs them.
Foolish and naive Western politicians and media pundits may be buying such hollow assertions from the Taliban, but Afghans in the thick of it and everybody else watching around the world have rightly remained skeptical, and that skepticism grows with each report of more beatings, rapes, and shootings.