Female visitors to a notorious men's prison on the edge of Kabul have been subjected to invasive body-cavity searches in recent weeks, according to The New York Times.
The Times said the searches were ordered by the prison's commandant, who claimed the measure was to keep contraband out of the American-financed Pul-e-Charki prison. Most male visitors to the prison only had to undergo a pat down, while nearly all female visitors were subjected to a vaginal search "without reasonable suspicion or recourse," said The Times.
Pul-e-Charki is Afghanistan's largest detention center, and American and Afghan officials have pressed Interior Minster Bismillah Khan Mohammadi and Gen. Muhammad Khan, the commandant of the prison, to halt the practice. On Thursday, the Americans cut off all funding to Pul-e-Charki in order to pressure the prison to stop the searches.
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The Times reported that this is just one example of the waning influence of the West and the diminishing of women's rights in Afghanistan as the old guard gathers power and the relationship between Afghanistan and the West worsens.
According to Radio Free Afghanistan, some 100 inmates at the same prison have gone on hunger strike, to protest their alleged mistreatment. A prison official anonymously told Radio Free that the prisoners sewn their lips and refused to eat for three days, as of March 15. They allege overcrowding and malnutrition.
The Pul-e-Charki houses 3,000 inmates, according to Radio Free, the majority of them former Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters and other notorious criminals.
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