Three videos circulating on social networks in Afghanistan claim to show a “prayer-writing” mullah sexually assaulting three separate women. The videos were reportedly made three years ago in the north-central Faryab province, but appeared online the week of September 10. Local officials have identified the mullah and accused him of rape. If the charges are correct, these videos would be rare documentation of an often-alleged practice: rape committed by mullahs claiming to offer prayer-inspired healing to women. They are known as “taweez nevis” in Afghanistan: self-appointed mullahs who in return for money write prayers on paper that are supposed to serve as “charms” (taweez). Afghan families often send women to see them in case of marital problems such as infertility. The sessions often lead to abuse. The three videos sent to me by multiple sources in Afghanistan appear to show such abuse. They show the same man, with a long beard and white robes, alone with three different women, in each case lying on a mattress on the floor. Screengrab from a video circulating …
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