An Afghan woman claims she was raped by police at the police station where she was trying to report a previous rape, Reuters reports.
Mariam, 18, was reportedly abducted from her home in Zareh, Balkh, Afghanistan at gunpoint in July and taken to another house down the street. There, she was raped by two men.
Accompanied by her father, she went to the local police station to report the attack.
“The police commissioner ordered my father to wait outside, and took me into his office,” Mariam told Reuters reporters, “He also raped me,” she said.
After sexually assaulting her, Police Commissioner Akram Zareh allegedly told her that she would be killed if she did not “keep her mouth shut.”
Sexual harassment and assault are extremely common in Afghanistan, where eight out of every 10 women have been abused sexually, physically, or psychologically. Crimes against women are rampant. The Afghan government acknowledges the issue, but there have been few substantive solutions from the government.
One problem is the limited number of female police officers. The United Nations Development Programme revealed that only about 2 percent of the Afghan national police force is female. Women in Afghanistan are usually hesitant to approach a male police officer with a sexual assault case, leaving many sexual assault cases unreported.
When they are reported, male officers often mismanage sexual assault cases, and in some cases officers will abuse or rape the women who come forward, Oxfam, an international confederation of charitable organizations dedicated to poverty relief, told Reuters.
Mariam’s father took her to Kabul after the incident to tell her story. Initially, Mariam threatened to burn herself alive, but her father was able to arrange for her to speak to a female anti-violence officer in private. After hearing the story, the attorney general launched an investigation.
The investigation is still ongoing.
The police commissioner denies raping the young woman and claims that this is a plot against him. The officer is also under investigation for a separate, unrelated rape allegation.
As Zareh is still serving as the police commissioner, Mariam refuses to return home. “I will burn myself, but will not go back home where he is ruling. I will stay here until I get justice,” Mariam told Reuters reporters.
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