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Corporal punishment in AFGHANISTAN

With comments by C. Farrell

On this page:

Afghanistan - Judicial CP
Afghanistan - School CP

External links on this page were all working in October-December 2018.

flag AFGHANISTAN: Judicial CP

In 2011 it was clarified that judicial corporal punishment is still lawful in Afghanistan.

No information is to hand about CP in Afghanistan in the pre-Taliban era.

During the Taliban's period in power (1996-2001), floggings were ordered by Islamic (Sharia) courts, notably for adultery and often of women. Amnesty International (see external links below) mentions over a dozen such sentences in 2000 and at least 30 in 2001. These figures seem very low, and possibly refer only to public floggings to which local publicity was given. Other whippings were carried out in prison and probably went unreported ("Afghan drug sellers punished with humiliation", USA Today, 18 October 2001).

Public floggings were also administered to corrupt government officials, as reported in this Oct 1998 news item.

Eyewitness accounts are rare, and it is unclear whether there was any consistency about the modus operandi. This April 1999 news item, about the public flogging of a young woman for adultery, and of her mother for not informing the authorities, gives a bit of (second-hand) detail. It also describes another flogging on the same day, of nine men convicted of gambling.

The instrument of choice appears to have been a leather strap or paddle known as a dura. According to one report, this was five inches wide ("In Afghanistan, Inept Bureaucracy Gives Way to Chaotic Kleptocracy", Los Angeles Times, 26 November 2001). The same report claims that smoking cannabis was one of the offences for which floggings were imposed.

At least some Taliban floggings were apparently intended only to be humiliating rather than painful, as described in this April 1997 news report of a case in which give men "received a symbolic lashing on their backs and legs" wearing three layers of clothing. In this case the leather whip is described as being 60cm long and 6cm wide.

In another report, the leather strap was said to be reinforced with steel, but "administered lightly" ("Muslims condemn Taliban's swift and brutal word of God", The Daily Telegraph, London, 24 May 1998).

Floggings were also sometimes carried out on the spot by the "religious police", apparently without any court hearing. There is a short video clip of a woman being flogged in a Kabul street in 2001 for removing her burqa in public.

The Taliban was removed from central power at the end of 2001, but they still control some areas, and there is still no properly functioning national judicial system. In rural areas, local tribal courts have been left to their own devices and some have imposed floggings, according to US State Department reports. It was suggested at the time that these were illicit, but more recent reports say that flogging is still legal under the new Afghan constitution, though allegedly rare.

An example is the case reported in this May 2010 news item (with video clip) where two teenage girls were flogged in a remote area for trying to escape forced marriages. This was said to be carried out by mullahs and a local warlord, not the Taliban.

Meanwhile, this Feb 2006 news item noted that "a large leather paddle" for administering CP still existed at the Supreme Court offices in Kabul.

This June 2011 report by the BBC states that a man had recently been publicly whipped by a judge in a courtroom in Jalalabad (pictured right) for drinking alcohol, and that this was an official and lawful punishment under Islamic law.

In Sep 2015 film emerged of a public whipping with leather strap of a man and a woman for adultery -- see this news item with video clip. They were sentenced to 100 lashes by a local court in Ghor Province, a sentence described by Amnesty International as illegal.

EXTERNAL LINKS: (these will open in a new window)


EXTERNAL LINKS: (these will open in a new window)

  • School Beatings Widespread
    News item from July 2004 suggesting that "corporal punishment" was being used routinely in schools under the post-Taliban regime. However, as so often in that region of the world, the actual cases quoted (students being punched and kicked, for instance) have nothing to do with proper CP. There are even references to students requiring hospital treatment. That is not corporal punishment, it is simple brutality. Journalists and activists need to stop misusing the language in this manner.

    The anti-CP agitators report that corporal punishment in schools is expressly prohibited under an Education Act passed in 2008.

  • US State Department Human Rights Practices Report 2006
    Corporal punishment in schools was "not uncommon" despite being against the law, according to this. (The reports for more recent years repeat the same information.)

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