beat Afghan woman
over bare ankles
By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL, Jan 16 (Reuter)- Men of the purist Islamic Taleban militia beat a woman with a
thick belt in a Kabul shopping area for failing to cover her ankles on Thursday, witnesses
"I saw a crowd of people on the pavement
watching a woman being beaten. She was alleged to have been improperly dressed,'' said one
onlooker, who asked not to be named.
A Taleban fighter said the woman had been punished
for not covering her ankles in line with a strict Islamic dress code.
The Taleban, most of whom come from conservative
southern provinces, issued guidelines a week ago on how people should behave during the
Moslem fasting month of Ramadan.
The guidelines, prepared by the Department for
Promoting Virtue and Suppressing Vice, warned women not to leave their homes without a
valid reason during Ramadan, when Moslems abstain from food, drink and sex during daylight
``Our esteemed sisters are asked not to go out of
their house without a legal excuse,'' the document said. ``In case they have to leave
their houses, they should be veiled from the head to below the ankle.''
Mullah Enayatullah Baligh, deputy head of the
department, said then that women were authorised to leave their homes to buy food, visit
patients in hospital or attend a funeral.
``But they should not just wander around in the
markets and parks. If a man sees a woman during Ramadan, he will be provoked,'' he said in
explanation of the restrictions.
Since they captured Kabul on September 27, the
Taleban have enforced their purist version of Islamic Sharia law, ordering women to wear
the all-enveloping burqa, a robe that covers the whole body from head to toe with a cloth
mesh over the face.
The militia has banned women from working in
government offices and closed all schools for girls. They have ordered men to grow beards
and cover their heads, in line with edicts enforced in other Taleban-controlled areas of
The beating of the woman on Thursday was not the
first such incident in the relatively cosmopolitan Afghan capital.
Witnesses say women have been lashed, hit or intimidated on several occasions for what the
Taleban see as moral crimes.
``I can never forget the day my friend was beaten
nearly to death for talking to a woman who was not veiled properly. She was lashed three
times,'' said the owner of a cosmetics shop.
The Taleban have decreed death for murder, 100
lashes and stoning to death for adulterers, and amputation for theft.
The Voice of Shariat, the Taleban-run radio, said
on Wednesday that two fornicators had been arrested in Kabul and a murderer in western
Afghanistan. It did not say if they had been punished.