Return of Afghan whips as Taliban hardline | Taliban news

Return of Afghan whips as Taliban hardline |  Taliban news
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In early November, 22-year-old university student Sadaf* was found guilty of “moral crimes” in one of the northern provinces of Afghanistan. She was accused by local Taliban officials of talking to a man who was not her “mahram” – a male family member.

Since taking control of Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban have imposed increasing restrictions on women, including women. gender segregation in universities and public places like gyms.

Sadaf said that his whole family could not sleep that night, they lay awake and prayed anxiously for the uncertain fate they faced.

“We didn’t know what my punishment would be and everyone was afraid they might kill me,” Sadaf told Al Jazeera.

“I was afraid that they would kill my family as well. My mother prayed that the issue would be resolved with just a flogging.”

The Taliban invite large crowds into public areas and stadiums for public spectacles of punishments such as flogging. On Wednesday, A the man was executed in public in Farah province.

“I estimate up to 80 people have been beaten since we took over Afghanistan,” Abdul Rahim Rashid, the head of the Afghan Supreme Court’s press relations department, told Al Jazeera.

“In Kabul, Logar, Laghman, Bamyan, Takhar and several other provinces, men and women were flogged for various crimes,” he added.

News of public executions in recent weeks has brought back memories of the Taliban’s harsh rule in the 1990s, when convicts were publicly stoned and beheaded.

The Taliban initially promised women’s rights and media freedom, but more than 15 months later, Afghanistan’s new rulers have gone back on those promises. Girls’ high schools remain closed, women are ostracized from public spaces, and a free media is almost non-existent.

A burqa-clad woman walks through an old market in central Kabul as a Taliban fighter stands guard
After the Taliban took over Afghanistan, they imposed severe restrictions on freedoms, especially for women. [File: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP]

The United Nations Human Rights Office Farahda said the execution, the first public execution since the Taliban’s return to power, was “disturbing” and called for an “immediate moratorium on any further executions”.

But international pressure does not seem to have swayed the Taliban.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted on Thursday that the international criticism shows that outsiders “do not respect the beliefs, laws and internal affairs of Muslims, which is interference in the internal affairs of countries and is condemned.”

“Afghanistan is an Islamic country… they have sacrificed a lot for the implementation of Islamic laws and system,” Mujahid said.

In a public statement issued on November 14, the Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, instructed judges to fully enforce aspects of the group’s strict interpretation of Islamic law, which includes public executions, stoning, flogging and amputation.


Sadaf, a student of Islamic law, claimed that he was wrongly accused and did not receive a fair trial. The name of his university is not published for security reasons.

“About a month ago, I was stopped by a local Taliban leader on my way back from university. He wanted to know why I rejected his son’s marriage proposal,” said Sadaf, adding that the same man had approached his father several times before.

“However, we refused them every time because I did not want to marry Talib [Taliban member],” he said.

“I told him that I know what a woman’s rights are in Islam, so if I don’t want to marry your son, no one can force me to do so. This made him very angry and he started calling me offensive names.

The 22-year-old accused the Taliban leader of reprimanding him for talking to an unrelated man, which the Taliban punish as a moral crime. “I told them [judges] that he saw me talking to my cousin; He meant the taxi driver I just got off of.”

Rashid, the head of the press relations department of the Supreme Court, rejected the accusations and said that no decision of the courts was taken without evidence.

“Courts get acquainted with the case files, the accused is brought to the appeals court, and only after a confession is obtained or witnesses are presented, the sentence is passed.

According to Sadaf, his neighbors tried to persuade Talib to let him go, but to no avail. A local Taliban official later told his father that he was the culprit. He was not represented by a lawyer and the sentence was announced without his presence.

“They [Taliban judges] He said that I would be forgiven if I married the suitor’s son, but I refused. I would rather die than marry her.

“Even though my mother tried to convince me, my father stood by me, saying that it is better for my daughter to die once than to die every day.”

“The legitimacy of such courts”

The day before the execution of the sentence, Sadaf’s family recited the Quran and prayed for his safety.

“I hugged my brothers, kissed my mother and asked for her forgiveness. I told my father that if something happens to me, I need to stay strong and leave this province,” Sadaf said before going to the local mosque.

Neighbors, including the Taliban leaders who had brought charges against him, gathered for the punishment. He was ordered to be flogged in public.

“They stood in a circle around me. My hands were tied, I was told not to scream, because men would not hear a woman’s voice. Then, when my father stood in front of me and begged Talib to forgive me, when I apologized to them for the crime I did not commit, they beat me.”

Sadaf was whipped about 30 times before he passed out. He does not remember how he was transferred to his home.

Human rights organizations are concerned about the increase in public lynchings and other brutal punishments in Afghanistan.

“The public flogging of women and men is a brutal and shocking return to the Taliban’s apparently harsh policies. This violates the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under international law and should not be carried out under any circumstances,” Samira Hamidi, an Afghan activist and Amnesty International’s South Asia activist, told Al Jazeera.

The UN has raised concerns about judicial processes in which the accused are often arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced on the same day. Hamidi said it also raises questions about the legitimacy of such trials held in the absence of a functioning justice system.

“The lack of tools such as access to lawyers, formal legal mechanisms and judicial processes for detainees has allowed the Taliban to interpret Islamic law or Sharia as a tool to restore their notorious justice system.

“Therefore, the legitimacy of such degrading and inhumane practices is out of the question and violence and ill-treatment cannot be justified.”

An Afghan woman left her cell in the women's section of the Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s treatment of girls and women has been heavily criticized by foreign powers that do not yet officially recognize Afghanistan’s current rulers. [File: Felipe Dana/AP]

“Deep patriarchal society”

For women in a deeply patriarchal society like Afghanistan, such punishments can have a more profound effect than flogging itself. “Being a woman whipped in public is culturally a direct threat to their lives as well,” Hamidi said.

“These women not only lose social respect, but are also subjected to domestic violence and ill-treatment by their families. They will be prosecuted, fired, and may even lose their lives for bringing shame to their families and communities.”

Cases like Sadaf’s underscore the extent to which women’s rights in Afghanistan have steadily deteriorated. Women continue to be denied the legal, political and social rights they have enjoyed over the past 20 years since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

Richard Bennett, the UN’s special rapporteur on Afghanistan, called it “the worst country in the world to be a woman or girl” when he presented his findings to a General Assembly committee in October.

In Sadaf’s case, the floggings were far from the end of his ordeal. Her family continued to face pressure from the Taliban leader to marry her off to his son.

“My father took us a while. I told the suitor that he will get married, but I asked him to wait a few weeks for the wounds on my body to heal. Then I organized our escape,” he said.

With the help of friends, his family fled to another province in the dead of night, facing an uncertain future in hiding.

“We don’t know how long we can run, but we have to find a way to run. Afghanistan has become a big prison where the Taliban can give you any punishment without any reason,” Sadaf said from his hiding place inside Afghanistan.

*Sadaf’s name has been changed due to concerns about possible reprisals

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