Nearly twelve years after the fall of the Taliban government, Afghanistan may reintroduce public stoning as a punishment for adultery, according to a draft of a new penal code leaked to Human Rights Watch.
The Guardian and the Telegraph both independently verified that public stoning is, in fact, included in the new penal code draft authored by a group led by Afghanistan's Justice Ministry. "Men and women who commit adultery shall be punished based on the circumstances to one of the following punishments: lashing, stoning [to death]," article 21 in the draft states, according to the Guardian. The Telegraph explains that "Unmarried adulterers should be subject to 100 lashes. If they are married, the punishment is stoning in a public place."
As Time points out, Afghanistan's current penal system has been in place since 1976, but does not outline public stoning as a potential punishment. Still, the practice was common for adulterers at the height of Taliban rule up until 2001 and a potent symbol of the regime's brutality.
But this new draft would make the punishment official, in writing, and surely anger human rights groups and the many countries who have supported Afghanistan over the transition from Taliban rule. If Afghanistan adopts this new law, it would likely be a huge blow against President Hamid Karzai, who already has a questionable history supporting Afghan women. “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 at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “President Karzai needs to demonstrate at least a basic commitment to human rights and reject this proposal out of hand.”