Reader Norm sent me this shocking news report that the government of president Hamid Karzai is considering re-introducing the practice of stoning adulterers in public in Afghanistan, an abomination that occurred under the rule of the Taliban but was mercifully halted after they were overthrown.
Death by stoning for convicted adulterers is being written into Afghan law, a senior official said on Monday, the latest sign that human rights won at great cost since the Taliban were ousted in 2001 are rolling back as foreign troops withdraw.
“We are working on the draft of a sharia penal code where the punishment for adultery, if there are four eyewitnesses, is stoning,” said Rohullah Qarizada, who is part of the sharia Islamic law committee working on the draft and head of the Afghan Independent Bar Association.
During the Taliban’s 1996-2001 time in power, convicted adulterers were routinely shot or stoned in executions held mostly on Fridays. Women were not permitted to go out on their own, girls were barred from schools and men were obliged to grow long beards.
Providing fresh evidence popular support for the brutal punishment has endured, two lovers narrowly escaped being stoned in Baghlan province north of Kabul, but were publicly shot over the weekend instead, officials said.
“While they were fleeing, suddenly their car crashed and locals arrested them. People wanted to stone them on the spot but some elders disagreed,” the provincial head of women’s affairs, Khadija Yaqeen, told Reuters on Monday.
“The next day they decided and shot both of them dead in public. Our findings show that the woman’s father had ordered to shoot both man and woman.”
Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that unmarried people who have sex will be merely flogged.
It is possible that the government is trying to pander to the religious extremists while trying to make actual carrying out of this practice highly unlikely by requiring four eyewitnesses to the adultery.
But even if that were true, such thinking is too clever by half. The fact is that people who are powerful enough or hateful enough can find people willing to lie that they witnessed such acts, especially if they think they are doing to honor their god by punishing outlawed sex.
When one thinks about it, much of religion has less to do with god and more with preventing people from having sex except in narrow situations where the men get to control and decide. Take away the drive to eliminate any form of sexual pleasure and the domination of women and traditional religions would become mere shadows of their former selves.