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Afghan government sexual abuse scandal rumbles on

A sex scandal in which government officials offered jobs in exchange for sexual favours is continuing in Afghanistan despite calls for an independent investigation earlier this year.

The allegations surfaced in May when the silence was broken by General Habibullah Ahmadzai, a former security adviser to President Ashraf Ghani.

He told Afghan channel Khurshid TV: “People were working systematically for promoting adultery in the [presidential]  palace and everyone is aware of it.”

He alleged: “Some ministers, president’s advisers and parliament members have [their] hands in prostitution,” and said some women were declared the winners of elections “based on [sexual] affairs.”

National unity government chief executive Abdullah Abdullah said at the time that “something could have happened” and called for investigations.

Speaking at a Council of Ministers meeting he said: “The solution should not be to punish those who have conveyed the message.”

Government spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said the claims were “false and baseless” warning that Mr Ahmzadi’s allegations were “an insult to the women who have sacrificed for so long to reach decision-making levels.

“No one will be allowed to harm the honour of Afghan women,” he added.

Mr Ahmzadi’s motives were questioned after he stood unsuccessfully for one of the 33 parliamentary seats in Kabul province last October.

Women suffer widespread discrimination in Afghanistan, which ranks 168th out of 189 countries in the United Nations Gender Inequality Index. They can still be jailed for “sexual impropriety.”

A scandal last year uncovered sexual abuse of female football players by high-ranking officials in the Afghan Football Federation. Five officials were suspended and Fifa launched its own investigation.

The BBC claimed today that sexual abuse was still rife “at the heart of the Afghan government.”

It said it had spoken to six women who had all been asked for sex in return for employment.

One said she was met by an aide of President Ashraf Ghani after securing a job.

“He said, come and sit, I’ll approve your documents. He moved closer to me and then said let’s drink and have sex,” she told a BBC reporter.

The government continues to deny the allegations.

But women’s rights activist and former MP Fawzia Koofi said: “The government’s response is defensive. They’re looking at it as a political issue rather than one which is about all the women of Afghanistan.

“There is a culture of impunity. The men who are the perpetrators feel protected within this government and that’s why they will be encouraged to commit more such offences.”
 

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