Afghanistan: SKSW/WLUML Statement: Stop stoning and other forms of cruel punishments by the Taliban


The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women and the Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) International Solidarity Network condemn the recent incidents of violent punishments by the Taliban in Afghanistan.   

On Sunday 15 August, a couple in their twenties were publicly executed by stoning by the Taliban in a village controlled by their forces in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan.The couple had eloped to Pakistan, although they were reportedly engaged to other people, but later returned to their village of Mullah Qulli in the Archi district of Kunduz. Some reports indicate that their families had agreed to marry them, while others conclude that a jirga had ruled they would be pardoned if the accused male paid compensation. However, the Taliban arrested and stoned to death the two young people in a bazaar of Dasht-e Archi district on the accusation of committing an act of adultery, as confirmed by Mohammad Omar, the governor of Kunduz.

A week before the execution another woman, Bibi Sanubar, a widow who was pregnant, was reported to have been lashed 200 times in front of a crowd before being killed by a Taliban commander in Badghis province. She had also been accused of adultery after being imprisoned for three days. It is reported that her male partner was not punished and continues to live in the area. 

These two incidents signal a very alarming development following the call by the Council of Ulema, Afghanistan's highest Islamic religious body, on the Afghan government to strictly enforce ‘hudood’ (physical punishments) prescribed under the shari’a. The move by the Council is seen as a concession with the Taliban to agree to end their conflict with the Afghan government. Under the Taliban, hudood punishments included public stoning, amputations and lashing, including for alleged transgressions of social norms. 

Since the 2001 intervention to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, there have been advances in the field of human rights particularly in respect of women’s rights and gender equality. These fragile gains are in danger of being further eroded as the Karzai government and its foreign supporters show a tendency to compromise human rights in exchange for short-term military and political agreements with the armed insurgent groups, particularly groups represented under the Taliban. In areas still under their control, the Taliban continue to enjoy impunity and have shown little regard for human rights and the laws of war by deliberately targeting civilians, aid workers, and schools (particularly girls’ schools). They have also severely curtailed the rights of women to employment, freedom of movement, political participation and representation.  

Our Demands: 

We call on the Afghan government and its NATO allies not to allow human rights, particularly the rights women and girls, to be sacrificed in the name of reconciliation with the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Human rights must be guaranteed and monitored in reconciliation efforts with these forces. We support the call of Afghan women that they be meaningfully represented in the planning and implementation of these reconciliation efforts in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1325. 

We welcome President Karzai’s statement that "the ruling to stone the two young Afghans by an illegal armed group without a fair trial runs contrary to all human and Islamic principles". We urge the Afghan government to exert all efforts to modify or abolish existing laws (such as in the Penal Code), regulations, customs and practices which discriminate against women in family matters, to: 

  • Ensure that women are given unqualified legal equality with men, in law and in practice, in respect of: the right to freely choose a spouse; to enter into marriage only with full and free consent; equal rights and responsibilities during marriage and its dissolution; and the right not to marry. 
  • Criminalise the following forms of violence against women and girls: family violence including ‘honour crimes’, the giving of girls and women in marriage as a means of dispute resolution; forcing men or women to marry against their will; or otherwise without informed consent, with particular provision in this regard in relation to boys and girls below the legal minimum marriage age: rape, including marital rape and rape of children; and other sexual assaults. 
  • End the detention, imprisonment or any other official action against women for the so-called crime of ‘running away’ and prioritize women’s right to freedom of mobility.
  • Allow for police and independent observers to investigate any reports of threats, intimidation or violence against women and ensure that law enforcement officials provide protection, especially to women and girls at risk