Thursday, 22 August 2019

Afghanistan opens probe into sexual favour allegations

Afghan women often enjoy far greater freedom — those pictured are watching a concert – than under the Taliban, but Afghanistan remains deeply conservative, and various levels of abuse can still seem like the norm   AFP/File

KABUL: Afghanistan’s attorney general opened an investigation Tuesday into allegations that some members of President Ashraf Ghani s administration are trading government positions for sexual favours.

The accusations made last week by General Habibullah Ahmadzai, a former security advisor to Ghani, have sparked an outcry in Kabul. Many have taken to social media to demand a probe.

In a statement, the attorney general s office vowed to investigate allegations “in a serious, fair, neutral and independent way”.

Investigators have already asked Ahmadzai to deliver by Thursday any evidence he may have to support his claims, which he first made in a televised interview last week.

Without providing any evidence, he levelled several corruption claims and said “circles” inside the Afghan presidential palace were asking women for sexual favours – offering coveted government seats in return.

“People were working systematically to promote adultery in the palace,” he claimed.

The allegations from Ahmadzai, who unsuccessfully ran for parliament in October elections, were initially backed by Mariam Wardak, a former advisor to Afghanistan s national security council.

She told an Indian news channel that “the issues he brought up and highlighted reflect reality.”

However, critics said Wardak s comments could have serious repercussions for thousands of women working in government offices. She later said her words had been “distorted”.

On Sunday, Ghani s spokesman rejected Ahmadzai s claims as “completely false and baseless.”

“This issue will be seriously investigated and the results will be shared with the people of Afghanistan,” he said.

Afghan women today often enjoy far greater freedom than they did under the brutally repressive Taliban regime, including the right to an education and the ability to work for the government.

However, Afghanistan remains a deeply conservative country and varying levels of abuse against women can still seem like the norm.

Last year, the head of the Afghanistan Football Federation along with five other officials were suspended by FIFA and put on a travel ban after graphic details emerged of alleged sexual and physical abuse against members of the women s national team.

Ghani has ordered an investigation into those claims.

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