Taliban holds public lashing in Afghan football stadium

The Taliban have lashed three women and nine men in front of hundreds of spectators in a provincial sports stadium in Logar province.

Women hold placards during a protest calling for their rights to be recognised, near the Shah-e-Do Shamshira mosque in Kabul .
Women hold placards during a protest calling for their rights to be recognised, near the Shah-e-Do Shamshira mosque in Kabul .

The display signals the religious extremist group's resumption of a brutal form of punishment that was a hallmark of their rule in the 1990s.

The office of the governor the province, south of the capital of Kabul, sent a social media invitation to "honourable scholars, mujahideen, elders, tribal leaders and local people" to attend the stadium in the town of Pul Alam at 9am local time.

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Those being punished received between 21 and 39 lashes each after being convicted in a local court of theft and adultery, an official said, adding that the women had been released after their punishment, but that some of the men had been jailed.

The official added that hundreds of people had attended the lashings, but a ban was imposed on taking photos and video.

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Separately, women held a protest calling for their rights to be recognised, near the Shah-e-Do Shamshira mosque in Kabul on Thursday.

Public lashings, as well as public executions and stonings for purported crimes, were common during the first period of Taliban rule from 1996 until 2001, when the militants were driven out in a US-led invasion.

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After a 20-year insurgency, the Taliban returned to power in August 2021, coinciding with the withdrawal of US and other foreign troops from the country.

However, in the immediate aftermath of their second takeover of the country, the Taliban promised to be more moderate and allow for women's and minority rights.

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Instead, they have restricted rights and freedoms, including the imposition of a ban on girls' education beyond the age of 11 or 12.

The first confirmed public lashing since last year's Taliban takeover was on November 11, when 19 men and women received 39 lashes each for alleged crimes including theft, adultery and running away from home.

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The resumption of the practice underlined the Taliban's intention of sticking to their strict interpretation of Islamic, or Sharia, law.

The former insurgents have struggled in their transition from warfare to governing amid an economic downturn and the international community's withholding of official recognition.