If a new law passes in Afghanistan, convicted adulterers — or people who take part in sexual intercourse either before or during marriage, with someone other than their spouse — may be sentenced to stoning as execution.
“Men and women who commit adultery shall be punished based on the circumstances to one of the following punishments: lashing, stoning [to death],” a draft of the new penal code states. In article 23 of the new draft, it specifies that the stoning should occur in public. “We are working on the draft of a sharia penal code where the punishment for adultery, if there are four eyewitnesses, is stoning,” Rohulla Qarizada, a member of the sharia Islamic law committee working on the draft, said, according to Reuters. The revision has not yet been approved — it will need to first go through parliament as well as the president of Afghanistan in order to become law. Currently, adulterers face long prison terms, the AFP reports.
The Taliban was ousted in 2001, and recently U.S. and foreign troops have begun to withdraw from Afghanistan, worrying human rights watch organizations that the country may slip back into a dangerous era. “It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment,” Brad Adams, Asia director of the Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.
When the Taliban ruled the country between 1996 and 2001, convicted adulterers were shot or stoned as punishment. Known widely as a fundamentalist Islamist political movement, the Taliban, when in power, enforced its strict interpretation of Sharia law — which is the moral code of Islam. Sharia covers topics such as crime, prayer, diet, sex, and hygiene, and is interpreted differently across different ethnic groups and cultures. There are two main ways of interpreting it: one is through the Koran, and the other is through the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Supporters of stoning claim that the practice is considered legal and appropriate by the acts and sayings of Prophet Muhammad.
Reuters reports that just this weekend, two lovers fled after they were convicted of adultery in Kabul. “While they were fleeing, suddenly their car crashed and locals arrested them,” Khadija Yaqeen, provincial head of women’s affairs, told Reuters. “People wanted to stone them on the spot but some elders disagreed. The next day they decided and shot both of them dead in public. Our findings show that the woman’s father had ordered to shoot both man and woman.”
Stoning is one of the oldest forms of execution in the world, and still takes place in certain parts of the Middle East and sub-Sahara Africa. Typically, the criminal is buried under rocks up to their waist and pelted with bricks and stones until battered to death. According to PolicyMic, stoning is legal or practiced in some fifteen countries — including Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and the United Arab Emirates — though only in a few of these countries has stoning actually occurred. International organizations, including the U.N., overall agree that stoning is a barbaric and outdated form of torturous punishment, but there are currently no international laws condemning it.