Men and women are publicly whipped for adultery by the Taliban
22nd November 2022

Men and women are publicly whipped for adultery by the Taliban as the group rolls out sharia law across Afghanistan

  • Ten men and nine women were each lashed 39 times by the Taliban
  • It is believed to be the first large-scale punishment since their return to power
  • Fears it could spark stonings and floggings carried out by the group in the 1990s 

Women accused of adultery have been publicly lashed by the Taliban as the Islamist group rolls out sharia law across Afghanistan.

Ten men and nine women were each whipped 39 times in the city of Taloqan for alleged adultery and theft, a senior Taliban official said.

It is the first such large-scale use of corporal punishment since the extremists returned to power last year.

Women accused of adultery have been publicly lashed by the Taliban as the Islamist group rolls out sharia law across Afghanistan (file image)

The flogging recalls the horrific executions and stonings carried out under their previous regime in the 1990s.

The punishments took place in the northeastern province of Takhar on November 11 after Friday prayers on the order of provincial courts, the spokesperson said.

It was not immediately clear whether such penalties would be meted out nationwide.

The Taliban’s supreme spiritual leader this month met with judges and said they should carry out punishments consistent with sharia law, according to a court statement.

Other countries have been scrutinising the Taliban’s track record on human rights and women’s rights since they took over in August 2021 after a two-decade insurgency. 

No foreign government has formally recognised the Taliban’s administration and many have already heavily criticised its reversal on signals they would open secondary schools nationwide for girls in March.

Other countries have been scrutinising the Taliban’s track record on human rights and women’s rights since they took over in August 2021

Public lashings and executions by stoning took place under the previous 1996-2001 rule of the Taliban.

Such punishments later became rare and were condemned by the foreign-backed Afghan governments that followed, though the death penalty remained legal in Afghanistan.

It comes as deteriorating living conditions under Taliban rule will mean more Afghans will struggle for survival this winter.

The religious group’s seizure of power sent the economy into a tailspin and fundamentally transformed Afghanistan, driving millions into poverty and hunger as foreign aid stopped almost overnight.

Martin Schuepp, director of operations at the Red Cross, said in an interview: ‘The economic hardship is there. It’s very serious and people will struggle for their lives.’

Sanctions on Taliban rulers, a halt on bank transfers and frozen billions in Afghanistan’s currency reserves have already restricted access to global institutions and the outside money that supported the country’s aid-dependent economy before the withdrawal of US and Nato forces.

The onset of winter will compound the acute humanitarian needs that half the country is already facing, Mr Schuepp pointed out.

Afghan women hold educational documents during a protest as they demand the Taliban government provide them with job opportunities in Kabul last month

‘Prices are spiking due to a whole set of reasons, but also the issue of sanctions has led to massive consequences,’ he said.

‘We see more and more Afghans who are having to sell their belongings to make ends meet, where they have to buy materials for heating while at the same time have to face increasing costs for food and other essential items.’

Sanctions are presenting a challenge in getting aid and the necessary supplies to the country in time, and it is key that all sanctions have humanitarian exemptions so organisations like the Red Cross could continue their work, he said.

The Red Cross is already paying the salaries of 10,500 medical staff every month to ensure basic healthcare services stay afloat, Mr Schuepp added.

‘We are very conscious that it’s not our primary role to pay for salaries of medical staff. As a humanitarian organisation, we are not best placed to do that. We have done so exceptionally to ensure that services continue to be provided.’

Mr Schuepp, who was making his first visit to Afghanistan as director of operations since the Taliban takeover, said the agency was feeding most of the country’s prison population. He was unable to immediately say how many prisoners there were in Afghanistan.

‘We have stepped up our support to prisons and prisoners, ensuring that food is being provided in the prisons throughout the country,’ he said. ‘Today, about 80% of the prison population benefits from such food support.’

He described the Red Cross’ role as a ‘stop-gap measure’ that had become necessary following the collapse of the US-backed Afghan government once Washington began its final withdrawal of troops in August 2021.

The Red Cross has tried ‘to make sure that basic services continue’ in prisons under Taliban rule, he said.

No country in the world has recognised the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the Taliban call their administration, leaving them internationally isolated. 

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