Taliban Have Started Torturing Women, Afghanistan Witness Says

A woman in Afghanistan has said that people have witnessed the Taliban torturing women since they seized power on August 15, after the United States and allies withdrew most of their military presence from the country.

When the Taliban ruled the country in the late nineties, public executions and violence against women were frequently reported. Women were confined mainly to their own homes. The Taliban lost power in 2001 after a U.S.-led invasion in response to the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001.

However, since they seized power back last weekend, the militant group has looked to portray a message that they have changed and that Afghan women will now have more rights than they did under their previous regime, as long as they comply with Sharia law. The group on Tuesday vowed to respect women's rights and forgive those who fought for them.

But several reports have indicated that women are still being beaten and tortured and that people are being executed. ITV News reported on Thursday evening that an Afghan woman who fled her home to escape the Taliban said: "'We have eyewitnesses in some provinces who have seen the Taliban torturing women."

The woman, who remained anonymous for her safety, told the channel that the Taliban will "never respect or give value to women's rights."

Several reports have said that women have been afraid to walk the streets of the capital Kabul. The woman who spoke to ITV News confirmed this.

"We're scared of wearing some clothes and walking on the street because we fear the Taliban might look at us and torture us because we're wearing something different," she said.

"We have to wear the burqa. The streets are empty and there are no women and girls in Kabul."

The woman appealed for help from the international community.

"I want the UN and the rest of the world to help us in this moment," the woman told ITV News.

"I feel really, really sad for this situation. I'm living like an immigrant in my hometown, in my country. We should live freely."

She said that the Afghanistan of 20-years-ago, under a brutal Taliban-rule, had returned in just a few short weeks.

"We cannot work outside, we cannot join university, I don't know what the future of Afghanistan is, and the future of women in Afghanistan."

Newsweek has contacted the Taliban for comment.

The U.S. withdrawal marks the end to America's longest war in history, but President Joe Biden has been heavily criticized for the drawdown and his approval rating has fallen. Since troops started leaving under his administration in the late Spring, the Taliban have made rapid advances and took power on August 15 after fighters descended on the capital Kabul. On Sunday morning, hours before the Taliban seized power, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, fearing there would be bloodshed if he remained.

Biden has defended his decision and instead blamed the Afghan army for the quick fall of the country to the Taliban.

Thousands of Afghans are looking to flee the country in fear of being brutalized or killed, for reasons including working with Western forces and the previous government. Scenes of chaos unfolded at Kabul airport over the weekend the militant group seized power, as thousands of people scrambled to board evacuation planes and even clung onto them after they took off.

A Taliban fighter stands guard along a road near the site of an Ashura procession which is held to mark the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, along a road in Herat on August 19, 2021, amid the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. A woman in Afghanistan has said that people are witnessing the Taliban torturing women since they seized power on August 15. Photo by AREF KARIMI/AFP via Getty Images