Woman executed for adultery in Afghanistan sparks protests
News broke earlier in the week of the execution-style killing of a woman in the Parwan province, about one hour from Kabul. The killing was captured on video by an onlooker and shows a crowd of men gathered around the woman, who is crouched down on the ground with her back to the camera.
A man can be seen reading from the Koran, shortly after which the woman is shot from behind several times. As the woman, who is said to have been 22 and called Najiba, lies dead on the ground, the camera pans to a large group of men who cheer and shout “long live Mujahideen”.
The murder has provoked wide-spread condemnation from within Afghanistan, and the international community.
British Foreign Secretary, William Hague said: “I am shocked and disgusted by [the] reports. Such deplorable actions underline the vital need for better protection of the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.”
President Hamid Karzai’s palace condemned the killing as an “un-Islamic and inhuman action”, and the most senior NATO commander in Afghanistan, US general John Allen, called it ”an atrocity of unspeakable cruelty”.
During the Taliban’s reign over Afghanistan in the 1990s, public executions such as these became commonplace. While the Taliban has denied involvement with this killing, the incident has reignited concerns about the future safety of women in the country as international troops prepare to withdraw.
At the protest staged in Kabul on Wednesday, women and men marched together with large banners, including one which read ‘International Community: Where is the protection and justice for Afghan women?’
One activist, Zuhra Alamyar, who was present at the rally said: “We want the government to take action on behalf of these women who are victims of violence and who are being killed. We want the government to take serious action and stop them.”
Wazhma Frogh, executive director of the Research Institute for Women, Peace and Security said that while this killing had created a fresh sense of worry and fear amongst Afghan women, it was indicative of the reality of women’s lives in Afghanistan. “The truth is… every day we are under threat. If we stay at home we are under threat. If we go to school we are under threat,” said Frogh.
Depite the progress that has been made for women since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the UN Development Programme still ranks Afghanistan as one of the world’s worst countries when it comes to equal rights for women.
The protest comes just days after an international gathering in Tokyo, at which over 80 donor countries pledged $16 billion in aid to Afghanistan. At the forum, and in response to the video, Hilary Clinton gave an impassioned speech giving her support for the women of Afghanistan:
“The United States believes strongly that no nation can achieve peace, stability and economic growth if half the population is not empowered… [It] will continue to stand strongly by the women of Afghanistan.”