Afghan dad shoots daughter in public execution ordered by mullahs

Public execution of young mother was to assuage family honour after she had affair

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 May, 2013, 2:33am


In front of 300 villagers, Halima's father shot her in the head, stomach and waist - a public execution overseen by local religious leaders in Afghanistan to punish her for an alleged affair.

Halima, aged between 18 and 20 and a mother of two, was killed for bringing "dishonour" on her family in a case that underlines how the country is still struggling to protect women more than 11 years after the fall of the Taliban.

Police in the northwestern province of Badghis said Halima was accused of running off with a male cousin while her husband was in Iran, and her father sought advice from Taliban-backed clerics on how to punish her.

"People in the mosque and village started taunting him about her escape with the cousin," Badghis provincial police chief Sharafuddin Sharaf said.

A local cleric who runs a madrassa told him that she must be punished with death, and the mullahs said she should be executed in public

"A local cleric who runs a madrassa told him that she must be punished with death, and the mullahs said she should be executed in public. The father killed his daughter with three shots as instructed by religious elders and in front of villagers. We went there two days later but he and his entire family had fled."

Amnesty International said the killing, which occurred on April 22 in the village of Kookchaheel, was damning evidence of how little control police have over many areas of the country.

"Violence against women continues to be endemic in Afghanistan and those responsible very rarely face justice," Amnesty's Afghanistan researcher, Horia Mosadiq, said. "Not only do women face violence at the hands of family members for reasons of preserving so-called honour, but frequently women face human rights abuses resulting from verdicts issued by traditional, informal justice systems."

Police in Baghdis, a remote and impoverished province that borders Turkmenistan, said Halima had run away with her cousin to a village 30 kilometres away.

Her father found her after 10 days and brought her back home, where clerics told him he must kill her.

A Badghis-based women's rights activist said he had seen a video of Hamila's execution.

"On the video, she is shot three times in front of 300 to 400 people. Her brother witnesses her death and breaks down in tears," said the activist, who declined to be named. "She is sitting on her knees in the dust, wearing a large chador veil. A mullah announces her funeral prayers first, then her father shoots her from behind with an AK-47 at a distance of about five metres.

"We have learned that a Taliban shadow governor in the region asked the mullahs to issue the death penalty for her. The local religious council first said she should be stoned to death, but since the cousin was not there, they decided she should be shot."

It is not known what happened to the cousin with whom she ran away.

The activist added that Halima's husband had objected to the death sentence and tried to return from Iran before the execution.