A recent video of a Taliban fighter executing a woman in a small town in Afghanistan’s Parwan Province last month has sparked outrage, but our Observer on the ground says the footage finally sheds light on the kind of violence women in the country’s rural areas often face.
The video opens on a woman draped in a greyish shawl, sitting alone in the middle of a rocky landscape, her back to her executioner. Hoisting a rifle on one arm, a man aims it at the woman, just a handful of paces away, and shoots nine times. On the third shot, her body tumbles backwards, and she lies heaped on the ground.
Because of the disturbing nature of the footage, the Observers Team has chosen to only publish screen grabs of the video showing the execution. To watch the video, click here.
The woman in the video, identified by authorities as Najiba, was executed because she had allegedly committed adultery. While there are varying accounts of the story
, a government spokesperson for Parwan Province has said that the 22 year-old woman was married to a member of the hardline Islamist movement, the Taliban. Accused of having had an affair with a Taliban commander, Najiba was judged and then shot to death before a crowd of onlookers in the town of Qol. In the video, the villagers can be heard cheering after her execution.
Qol is located in Parwan Province’s Shinwari district, which was once considered relatively safe, even for foreigners, but has since come under increasing Taliban influence.
The video sparked widespread outrage, prompting President Hamid Karzai to launch a manhunt
to track down Najiba’s killer, who had reportedly fled into the mountains with other Taliban members. General John Allen, head of NATO’s operation in Afghanistan, also offered to help local security forces capture those responsible for what he labelled, “an atrocity of unspeakable cruelty”.
Najiba’s killing comes as concerns over women’s rights in the country mount ahead of NATO’s planned 2014 troop withdrawal. Shortly before the video surfaced, US Secretary Hillary Clinton voiced her fears over the issue, saying, “The United States believes strongly that no nation can achieve peace, stability and economic growth if half the population is not empowered”.