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December-19-01

Thousands of Women Kidnapped, Trafficked by Taliban

General Mohammed Qasim, an official in the interim Afghan ministry of justice, has pledged to investigate the thousands of female abductions committed by the Taliban. Qasim, however, admitted that many of the women and girls kidnapped by the Taliban would be difficult to locate as many of them have been killed, forced to be concubines of Taliban officers who have fled, or trafficked into areas outside of Afghanistan. According to Qasim, the Taliban regularly sold women as sex slaves to fund its regime.

The total number of women sold into sexual slavery, however, may never be known. Qasim estimates that the number is at least one thousand, but families, fearing reprisal from the Taliban, have been hesitant to report these crimes. Other families, according to Human Rights Watch researcher Farhat Bokhari, fear dishonor. Still many of the abducted are orphan girls without families. In a meeting with the U.S. State Department earlier this week, Dr. Sima Samar, Deputy Prime Minister for the Afghan interim government, announced that creating orphanages to protect young girls from sex trafficking would be one of her goals in her new post.

Even with the end of the Taliban, women and girls might not be completely safe from sex trafficking. According to one official, kidnappings and trafficking were also common practices of mujaheddin leaders that ruled the country before the Taliban took power. Some mujaheddin leaders will have roles in the new Afghan government.

Media Resources: Washington Post, 12/19/01; Feminist Majority Foundation

   

     

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