Pregnant woman is flogged and shot dead by Taliban
Execution and Karen Woo’s murder beg the question - what will happen when Nato leaves Afghanistan ?
Deep anxieties over what will happen when Nato forces eventually leave the Afghans to their own devices have been raised by the slaughter of a group of aid workers, including the British medic Dr Karen Woo, and now by the news of the flogging and execution by the Taliban of a pregnant woman.
Police in the remote northwest province of Badghis confirmed to the AFP news agency yesterday that the 35-year-old woman, Bibi Sanubar, died after being shot three times in the head by a Taliban commander in the district of Qadis - an area entirely under Taliban control.
Sanubar was a widow and is said to have been reported to the Taliban by local elders, who discovered she had had an "illicit affair" which had left her pregnant. Although it was many years since her husband died, under the strictest interpretation of Sharia law, having sex with another man counts as adultery.
She was held captive for three days and then given 200 lashes in public before being shot. The man with whom Sanubar allegedly had the affair was not punished.
Mullah Daoud, a senior Taliban commander, told the Times that he was one of three who sat in judgment of Sanubar.
"There were three mullahs that passed this verdict. I was one of them," he said. "We gave this decision so that in future no one should have these illegal affairs. We whipped her in front of all the local people, to show them an example. Then we shot her."
The deputy police chief in Badghis, Ghulam Mohammad Sayeedi, confirmed the shooting to AFP. He said Sunabar's body was dumped afterwards in an area under Afghan government - not Taliban - control.
The execution serves as a brutal reminder of what the Taliban are capable of. During the six years they ruled Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, public stonings and lashings were common punishment for women accused of adultery, while thieves would have their hands and feet chopped off.
But what is disturbing to human rights watchers today is that, while the punishment would not have been so severe, it is very likely Bibi Sunabar would still have been found guilty of adultery under Afghan state law, if the Taliban had not stepped in first.
While the head of security in Badghis province, General Abdul Jabar, condemned the flogging and execution of Sunabar, he made it very clear that what she was accused of was a crime in his view.
"This was not the way she should have been punished," the general said. "She should have been arrested and we should have had proof that she'd had an illegal affair. Then she should come to court and face justice. This kind of punishment was very severe."
Under Afghan state law, it is common for victims of rape to be jailed for having sex outside marriage. And while some adulterers are jailed, others are sent home so that their families can punish them appropriately. At which point they can be ostracised - or dealt with in an 'honour killing'. ·
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