In some Afghan provinces, warlords still reign supreme. Under their authority, the treatment of women is bleakly reminiscent of Taliban rule; as this video of a woman being whipped in public goes to show.
Please be aware, you may find these images upsetting.
The footage, posted online by Afghani women's rights organisation RAWA, based in Pakistan, was originally aired by the Afghan TV channel "Tolo TV" on Feb. 18 (the logo of the channel is seen at the bottom of the screen).
When contacted by FRANCE 24, the Afghan channel told us that the scene had taken place in December 2009 in the Dolina district (Ghor province, central), and that the footage was filmed by one of its sources there.
According to Ghor governor Abdul Hai Khatibi, the two women flogged that day -- only one is seen on the video -- had been forced to marry against their will. Beaten by their husbands, they ran away from their respective homes disguised in men's clothing. After a month on the run they were caught by police in Chasht (Herat province, west), arrested, and sent back to their husbands.
Both women were sentenced to 45 lashes in public. In a statement made on Pajhowk Afghan News, the deputy chief of police of Dolina district, Jahan Shah, explained that the case had been handed over to the local warlord, Fazl Ahad. He decided to have the women punished for running away, but also demanded that the husbands, whom he deemed guilty as well, divorce their wives.
“Most Afghans would be outraged to see a public flogging like this”
Nasim Fekrat is an Afghani blogger who posted the video on his blog.
This type of thing isn't unheard of. Obviously you don't see it in Kabul, where the United Nations, NGO workers, and government agents are present, but in rural areas, warlords are still in charge of the judiciary.
They usually employ a bunch of soldiers, which you can see in this video behind the women. Similar things happen among Taliban circles in places like Kandahar. But unlike here, the information doesn't get out because people are scared of what might happen to them if they speak out, and journalists aren't allowed in.
Most Afghans would be outraged to see a public flogging like this. We're also aware, however, that the situation for women has changed enormously in the past few years. Under the Taliban, these women would have been killed. Today, people can have their opinion about such issues and pass on the message. We've got a long way to go but things have already changed a lot."