Three women and 11 men were flogged in Afghanistan on Wednesday after a court found them guilty of theft and “moral crimes,” according to a spokesman of the restive country’s Logar province.
“Fourteen people were given discretionary punishment, of which 11 were men and three were women,” said Qazi Rafiullah Samim, head of information and culture for Logar province. “The maximum number of lashes for anyone was 39,” he said, claiming that the punishments were not meted out publicly. However, independent reports claim the floggings occurred in front of thousands of onlookers at a football stadium in the province.
The Taliban spokesman for Logar, Omar Mansoor Mujahid, said all three women had been freed after being lashed. Some of the men were also released, he said, but did not clarify how many were jailed after the flogging.
The move is widely being seen as a return to the hardline practices seen under the previous Taliban rule of the 1990s, which the group had claimed it would not do prior to the West’s exit from Kabul last year. During their last rule from 1996-2001, the Taliban were regularly condemned for public punishments, including floggings and executions at the national stadium in Kabul.
Earlier this month, Afghan Taliban’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada ordered judges to fully enforce aspects of Islamic law that include public executions, stoning and floggings, as well as the amputation of limbs for thieves. This week’s lashings are the first to be formally confirmed by the Taliban, however, media reports suggest 19 other people were similarly punished last week in the Takhar province of northern Afghanistan.
Since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021, there have been numerous reports of Taliban fighters flogging people accused of various offenses, however none of these had been confirmed or validated by the Afghan government. There has been growing concern in the international community of the Taliban returning to human rights violations of their last tenure, with the Afghan government yet to be formally recognized by any country. Outrage is also mounting over the Taliban reneging on a promise to allow girls’ education, with several women having been beaten over the past year for demanding equal rights.