Shame, Humiliation and Mental Torture: Inside What Really Happens at Taliban’s Public Display of Punishments like Flogging

Kandahar Taliban
Representative photo which displays a stadium in Kandahar where public flogging takes place.

What happened? Shame, humiliation and mental torture are things that an individual accused by the Taliban’s Supreme Court have to go through apart from the physical punishments when the group’s alleged justice takes its course in Afghanistan. Reporterly spoke to witnesses who had attended the recent public flogging in Kandahar province on Tuesday and what comes to light is an embarrassment for any dignified human.

Go deeper:

  • The Taliban had publicly flogged nine people at the Ahmadshahi Stadium in Kandahar, in the presence of the common public, for crimes of theft and sexual issues.
  • One of the accused was a teenager, said a witness who spoke to Reporterly on the condition of anonymity and had attended the public spectacle at the stadium. “They made the teenage stand up, called out his name and said that he had indulged in wrongful sexual relations seven times. All those who had gathered at the stadium to see the punishment mocked him.”
  • The witnesses, who Reporterly spoke to, talked about the humiliation and mental torture that each accused had to go through apart from bearing the brunt of the physical punishment which was flogging.
  • Hamid (pseudonym), who was among the spectators at the stadium, told Reporterly, “Nine people had been flogged on Tuesday. It was like an embarrassing show every time they brought an accused forward in front of the crowd. They would announce his name, his father’s name, his great-grandfather’s name- shaming his entire family. They would then go ahead and announce the type of crime which had been committed and where. All this was done on the loudspeaker, so that the shame was loud enough for everyone to hear.”
  • The public punishments are not a small affair either, large crowds gather at the stadiums to watch the public flogging. In the photos shared on social media from the Kandahar stadium, some people could be seen climbing overhead trees to watch the punishments underway.
  • Through the videos, one could see fear, anger and even joy on some of the faces of those who came to watch it. In some cases, the relatives of those who were punished shed tears after witnessing the scenes.
  • If the humiliation was not enough, the Taliban officials would then unmask the face of the accused and introduce the individual as a criminal. Then, the physical torture would start- flogging.

Zoom out: Public punishments began after Taliban Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada last month ordered judges to uphold aspects of Islamic law, including implementation of Hudood (crimes against God) and Qisas (retribution in kind) punishments. The order also led to the first public execution of a convicted murder since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

  • The inhuman nature and trial of these sentences had been condemned across the globe, yet they continue. Women too have not been left out and the Taliban seems to be raking in this “show”.
  • In fact, when the group publicly executed the first person under their second rule, they put up a grand “spectacle”. All senior officials of the Taliban had landed to witness the execution in public. What this inhuman treatment holds for the future of the country is only doom.
  • The Islamist group previously ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 when Taliban authorities would routinely carry out punishments in public, including floggings and executions at sports stadiums before crowds of spectators.
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