The Taliban murdered a pregnant policewoman in front of her family on Saturday night, according to her son. Her death, in the central Afghanistan province of Ghor, adds to mounting concerns about the repression of women under the Taliban’s rule.
The victim’s full name was Negar Masoomi, her sister told CNN. Her killing was also confirmed to CNN by a local journalist in Ghor, who said she worked in Ghor prison and was eight months pregnant when she died.
The Taliban told CNN they were not involved in her death, but have launched an investigation.
Video obtained by CNN showed her son Mohammad Hanif giving his account of the murder, saying that the Taliban came inside the house where his family lives, then took himself and his brothers outside and tied them up.
“They killed our mother before our eyes. They killed her with a knife,” Hanif said.
Because she was pregnant Hanif said the Taliban carried out two murders and called upon the government to act to find the killers and bring them to justice. If nothing is done, Hanif warned “we might have to take the law into our own hands.”
Bilal Kareemi, a Taliban spokesman, denied the accusations. “She hasn’t been killed by the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate, probably it is because of a personal animosity, but we haven’t received the final result of the investigation,” he said.
“Our Mujahideen are busy investigating the incident and we will share with you our final findings as soon as we receive it,” he added.
Taliban leaders have insisted publicly that women will play a prominent role in society in Afghanistan and have access to education.
They are still involved in talks over forming a government, but in recent weeks have signaled women should stay at home, and, in some instances, militants have ordered women to leave their workplaces.
These moves are at odds with the group’s attempt to seem more tolerant, and have instead stoked fears of a return to the harsh policies of Taliban rule two decades ago, when women all but disappeared from public life.
Some Afghan women are already opting to remain indoors as fears mount over their safety, with some families purchasing full-length burqas for female relatives.
But others are taking to the streets, risking their safety in protests to demand equal rights under Taliban rule and full participation in political life.
On Monday, over a dozen women rallied in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, according to the Women’s Political Participation Network and a local journalist covering the demonstration. Videos and photos shared on social media showed protesters holding signs that read, “An inclusive government without the presence of women has no meaning,” and “Women cannot be eliminated.”
In one clip, a woman said that the group had been told to leave by the Taliban or face being “badly beaten.” Another woman interviewed by the BBC said that the protesters were threatened by Taliban fighters, who pulled guns and blocked journalists from reporting on the demonstration. But she added that the protest had continued peacefully, unlike a demonstration in Kabul over the weekend that was met with tear gas after Taliban forces prevented the women from marching on to the presidential palace.
CNN has reached out to the Taliban for comment.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Monday also tweeted a video that he described as a group of women rallying in support of the militant group in Mazar-i-Sharif.