Fourteen people were publicly lashed in a football stadium in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, the first time that the Taliban invited Afghans to witness brutal corporal punishment in sports stadia since they last ruled the country in the 1990s.
The group, which included three women, each received between 21 and 39 lashes in front of a crowd of hundreds of residents in the town of Pul Alam in Logan province. Attendees were invited via social media but requested not to film the event.
“Fourteen people, including three women were lashed in the presence of scholars, authorities and people… for different sins including adultery, robbery and other forms of corruption in a football stadium in Logar [province],” said the Taliban’s Supreme Court.
Omar Mansoor Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman for Logar province said the three women were freed after they had received their lashes but that some of the men were jailed. Allegedly, two other people were separately lashed in the eastern Laghman province.
Last week, the Taliban’s secretive Supreme Leader, Hibatullah Akhunzada, announced that strict Islamic Sharia law would be implemented across Afghanistan, which involves corporal punishments for an array of crimes.
The lashings in Logar province are the second official confirmed use of Sharia punishment since Mr Akhunzada’s announcement and the first time that corporal punishment was meted out in a football stadium during the current Taliban regime.
“Sharia law is the only solution for problems in Afghanistan and must be implemented,” said the deputy governor of Logar, Enayatullah Shuja, following the lashings.
In the 1990s, the use of football stadia by the Taliban to carry out public executions, stonings and beatings was one of the defining features of their brutal rule. They believed the horrifying public spectacle would discourage dissent against their rule.
Some Afghans took to social media to contrast the jubilant scenes at the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar, with the punishments meted out in the football stadium in Pul Alam, a small town of around 20,000 people.
“While stadiums in Qatar are hosting the World Cup matches these days, stadiums in Afghanistan have once again become a place for public lashing and execution,” wrote one user.
At least 19 people were also lashed 39 times each in the northeastern Afghan city of Taloqan on November 11 for allegedly carrying out adultery and theft.
The Taliban is struggling to maintain law and order in Afghanistan or run a functioning economy. On Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that many Afghans would struggle to survive during the upcoming winter.
Approximately 90 per cent of Afghans are already suffering from food insecurity and there are reports of parents giving their starving infant children medicines, including escitalopram and sertraline, to sedate them.
In the central Afghan province of Uruzgan, local officials report children overdosing or becoming addicted to opium after their parents gave them the drug to staid hunger or in lieu of being able to afford medical painkillers.
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