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(image:  )    File photo of Taliban fighters in the back of a pick-up truck in Kabul.  Last year, the Taliban's supreme leader said fighters were forbidden from pressuring women into marriage<br>  An Afghan woman has claimed in an online video that a Taliban official beat, raped and forced her into marrying him -- charges which the senior member of the hardline Islamist movement has denied.<br> The woman, who identified herself only as Elaha, said she was sexually assaulted by Saeed Khosty, a former spokesman for the interior ministry.<br> Khosty denied the assault accusations, saying he had divorced Elaha after what he called a "consensual marriage".<br> Their accusations and denials have been shared thousands of times on social media in Afghanistan, where it is rare for such allegations and personal details to be aired publicly.<br> Dressed in a hijab, Elaha, who said she was a medical student at Kabul University and appeared to be in her mid-twenties, is seen crying as she describes her ordeal in the footage posted online on Tuesday.<br> "In February, Saeed Khosty, who was the spokesman for the interior ministry, forcefully married me inside the intelligence department," she said, without specifying how the two had met.<br> "I was beaten. I was raped there. I didn't know what to do," she said.<br> Elaha, who said she was the daughter of a former Afghan general, added that she tried to flee but was caught at the Torkham border with Pakistan and taken to a prison in Kabul.<br> She said she was asked to apologise to Khosty, and when she refused she was "beaten".<br> It was not known where Elaha had posted the video from, or where she was now.<br> On Twitter, Khosty denied the accusations.<br> "She had some issues regarding beliefs and faith. I tried to correct her through discussions and advice, but it did not work," the Taliban official said.<br> "I have not beaten her, but exercising my Islamic rights I divorced her. I regret my marriage to her, which I had entered into hastily."<br> He said Elaha was free to file a case against him if she wished.<br> "I apologise to the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate and Afghan nation. May God forgive me," Khosty said.<br> "If I'm proved guilty, the court can punish me. If she does not believe in the courts of the Islamic Emirate, then I'm ready to go to any court that she wants."<br> After Elaha's video emerged, the hashtag #justiceforElaha went viral on social media.<br> Khosty received support online from some Taliban members.<br> "Unless a court convicts him, he is not a criminal for me," tweeted former Kabul police spokesman General Mobeen Khan.<br> Last year, Taliban Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada issued a decree ordering authorities to take strict action against those who "force women to marry by coercion or pressure".<br> Since returning to power last year, the Taliban have enforced a series of strict rules on the conduct of women, especially in relation to public life.<br> The hardline Islamists have shut girls' secondary schools in most provinces and barred women from many government jobs.<br> They have also ordered women to fully cover up in public, ideally with an all-encompassing burqa.<br>
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Friday, September 2, 2022
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