While reports of the Taliban’s involvement in the trafficking of Afghan women was long reported by Afghan refugees fleeing Afghanistan during the Taliban’s rule, more detailed and numerous accounts continue to emerge following the collapse of the brutal regime. According to a report in Time magazine, government officials and witnesses have revealed that the Taliban routinely kidnapped women from Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara and other ethnic minorities to be trafficked and used as sex slaves. Some women were also forced to “marry” Taliban and al Qaeda soldiers, who often raped and later abandoned them. According to Kabul police chief Ahmad Jan, “The girls were dishonored and then discarded.” Other women were sent to Pakistan to be sold to brothels, trafficked to al Qeada training camps, or sold to wealthy clients inside and outside of Afghanistan. As many as 600 women have been reported missing in one region of Afghanistan.
Following a 1999 research trip to Pakistan, the Feminist Majority reported to the U.S. State Department that numerous refugees had described the Taliban rounding up women on trucks and abducting them as the regime moved into different areas of the country. The refugees feared that the Taliban were taking these women for sex trafficking.
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. However, he has admitted that many of the women and girls kidnapped by the Taliban would be difficult to locate, as many of them have been killed or are no longer in the country. Even with the end of the Taliban, women remain vulnerable to sex trafficking, especially orphans. In a meeting with the U.S. State Department in December 2001, Dr. Sima Samar, Deputy Prime Minister for the Afghan interim government and Minister for Women’s Affairs, announced that creating orphanages to protect young girls from sex trafficking would be one of her goals in her new post. TAKE ACTION: Support the Afghan Ministry for Women’s Affairs.