Freed Women's Rights Activist Reveals 'Horrifying Torture' In Taliban's Prisons

Friday, 03/01/2024

Zarifa Yaqubi, an Afghan female activist who was imprisoned for about 41 days by the Taliban, has disclosed distressing details about the "horrible torture" of female prisoners.

Yaqubi, who was detained on November 3, 2023, along with four colleagues as they sought to announce the existence of a women's movement, spent 41 days in Taliban custody.

Currently residing in Canada, she addressed a press conference on Thursday, following the submission of the petition by a group of Iranian and Afghan activists urging the criminalisation of gender apartheid.

Yaqubi said that following the takeover of power by the Taliban, she protested "for justice and rights", but the Taliban arrested her because she was "a woman, a Shia, and a Hazara".

She revealed that during her imprisonment, the Taliban subjected her to severe mental and physical torture. “Its effects still hurt my soul and I still take medicine to forget those days," said Yaqubi.

During the press conference, Yaqubi shared details of her experience in the Taliban prison, highlighting that it commenced with insulting her ethnicity and sect, and then, they took her to the "place of torture" by grabbing her "hair".

She further disclosed that she lost consciousness due to the "electric shocks and kicks" inflicted by the Taliban. Despite that, Yaqubi considers herself fortunate. She explained, "From the walls and ceiling, you could hear the voices of women in tears, pleading, “torture me, but don't take my clothes, and don't subject me to rape."

Yaqubi stated that there are no health services in Taliban prisons, and she was not allowed to take a bath during her 41 days in prison.

According to her, she was not allowed to meet her family either.

Yaqubi mentioned other women prisoners who had a similar fate in the Taliban prison and women who are still there, such as Manizha Siddiqi.

This Afghan women's rights activist said that history will judge that the world today has forgotten the women and girls of Afghanistan.

She asked Canada to stand by Afghan women and take the lead in recognising gender apartheid in this country.

During the two and a half years of their rule, the Taliban has detained several women activists who protested against the policies of the group.

Human rights organisations, including UNAMA, have confirmed reports of torture of prisoners in Taliban prisons.

Submitting a petition to criminalise gender apartheid

A group of Afghan and Iranian activists have submitted a request to the Canadian Parliament, urging for the criminalisation of gender apartheid.

The request was submitted by Ali Ehsassi, a representative of the Canadian Parliament, who has stated that gender apartheid is a crime against humanity.

This petition was prepared by two organisations defending women's rights in Canada.

Members from two women's rights organisations, accompanied by former women representatives from the Afghan Parliament, as well as Afghan and Iranian activists, attended the Canadian Parliament on Thursday. They met with 10 members from the House of Representatives and the Canadian Senate, to discuss the petition.

These activists also met Jacqueline O'Neill, Canada's ambassador for women and security, and several officials of the country's foreign ministry.

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