Rokhsahana, a woman, was barbarically put down like a dog that had defied its master, a man

Published: November 4, 2015
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A video still of men stoning a woman in Ghor province, Afghanistan. PHOTO: AFP

She just wanted to live her life.

Rokhsahana, estimated to be only 19 years of age, was brutally stoned to death just over a week ago, in late October. An Afghan girl belonging to the village of Ghalmeen, she had spent her entire life suffering decisions made by other men.

According to The Guardian:

“According to Joyenda, who has staff members from the village, Rokhsahana first ran away several years ago to Iran after her family tried to marry her off to an old man. After they brought her back, they forcibly married her off to another old man. When she ran away this time, she did so as a married woman, and was punished with stoning.

Local officials, including the police chief and the head of Ghor’s department for women’s affairs, Masooma Anwari, have blamed the Taliban for the killing, claiming that the sentence was decided in a Taliban court.

However, activists in Kabul warned against jumping to conclusions. Wazhma Frogh, co-founder of the Research Institute for Women, Peace and Security, said her contacts in Ghor had told her the perpetrators were not Taliban but rather the local tribal leaders.”

Recorded in the middle of a dusty parched terrain, a video of her brutal punishment has taken the internet by storm. In it, this young girl stands in a confined pit, with only her neck and head above the ground. Several Afghan men sit off to a side, watching like audience members at a theatre. Others dare to observe from a closer distance, documenting on their cellphones the disgusting scene as it develops.

Warning: This video contains graphic content that may not be appropriate for our younger audience. 

Then, there are the village elders, wearing long turbans and even longer bushy beads. Armed with heavy stones, they walk towards Rokhsahana with the casualness of someone heading towards the lavatory. In the background, Rokhsahana’s voice can be heard, reciting scripture in a clear attempt at melting the stone hearts of her assailants.

One man stops, takes aim, and fires a rock. Others soon follow. The projectiles hit Rokhsahana one by one, with sickening thuds. As the thuds grow louder, so do the bone chilling cries of Rokhsahana.

The high pitched shrieks are enough to tear at the soul of any observer, yet these men don’t seem to be affected. As the video nears its end, one Afghan can be seen passing his camera to another, perhaps so that he too can join in.

Though this video lasts only 30 seconds, the horror continued for the young girl until she succumbed to her injuries. Killed barbarically in an unjust world where men make all the rules and women are nothing but property.

Yes, Rokhsahana was barbarically put down like a dog that had defied its master.

And what of the boy, with whom Rokhsahana had dared to run away?

According to The Daily Mail,

“The man was let off with a lashing, Joyenda’s spokesman said.”

While Rokhsahana’s body was brutally disfigured little by little from the impact of stones until her skin, skull, and face were so badly maimed that she could no longer survive, this man, an equal part in this supposed crime, was let go after a few lashes.

Neither Rokhsahana nor her friend deserved any punishment, yet in the eyes of the village elders, the fault rested largely with her, simply because she was a woman.

Not long ago, Farkhunda Malikzada, a religious teacher, was beaten to death by countless Afghans as they punched and kicked her across the streets of Kabul. There was international outrage and Afghanistan swore Farkhunda’s killers would be punished.

It didn’t quite turn out that way.

According to The Guardian,

“Earlier this year, a state court overturned many of the initial hard sentences given to those behind the mob murder of Farkhunda, a female religious teacher, in Kabul.”

It is a similar tale in Pakistan, where women don’t have the same freedom as men. They are harassed online for having an opinion, passed over for promotions because of their gender, assaulted for playing a cricket match at an iconic university, disfigured by acid for rejecting a marriage proposal, and stoned to death for choosing their own relationships.

Why are so many people of my gender threatened by women struggling to write their own futures? Why do men so quickly turn to violence when displeased with a woman? Is it because physical strength is the only superiority they have?

But is it really superiority? What if the vast majority of political and military leaders from the beginning of time had been women, rather than men? I bet you, we would have avoided the countless wars throughout the ages, and the vast amounts of resources wasted by the world on violence, would have gone towards solving the world’s problems and making it a better place.

I’ll also bet you that Rokhsahana was more intelligent than every man who tried to tear her down with a rock.

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Pyaazriwal

    “While Rokhsahana’s body was brutally disfigured little by little from the impact of stones until her skin, skull, and face were so badly maimed that she could no longer survive, this man, an equal part in this supposed crime, was let go after a few lashes.”

    Piece loving people.Recommend

  • khan

    when there is no law.the weak will suffer.Recommend

  • Parvez

    What you have so graphically described can only be called barbaric……and to think that they justify such behavior using religion as their shield, is simply unacceptable.

    I liked the way you ended this, musing on ‘ if women were in charge…… ‘ possibly the world would be a better place. Man has a missive head start in this race. Way back when man got hold of a club the first thing he did was hit woman on the head and dragged her to his cave…..if she had picked up a rock and hurled it at him, today the world would be different. How good it would be is another story.Recommend

  • jayant

    Now come up with an escuse we all have heard million times ” this is not Islam. these people are not Muslims ”

    Et plz publishRecommend

  • Striver

    Parents lead her to this. Its like burying your infant daughter alive.Recommend

  • mjkhan

    Do you see a bunch of women stoning a man? Do you see women killing/shooting innocent people to spread political power/fear? Do you see a group of women making sex videos of children? Do you see a group of women deciding to kill thousands of innocent people in the name of religion/race/cast/social status? Do you see women defining the govt. of Pakistan? Do you see women judges in the Supreme Court of Pakistan? Do you? I rest my case. It IS a MAN’s WORLD.Recommend

  • Milind A

    Poor soul!!! R.I.P.Recommend

  • jay

    what is the punishment for apostasy or adultery under Islam ? Taliban want to impose Shria law in Afghanistan so this lady got right punishment ? Pakistan does support Taliban , right? Recommend

  • jayant

    most Muslims will stay awayd from this article. write something about Kashmir or Palestine. they will be camping on those articles. Anjum Chodhary wants Shria in UK,,, imagine?Recommend

  • MA

    It’s not they put her down like a dog, actually, they are dogs, wild and untamed, so they attack a defenceless human. Where are the authorities at such times?Recommend

  • DudeFromDC

    “Warning: This video contains graphic content that may not be appropriate for our younger audience. ”
    How is it appropriate for any audience ??.. As a father two girls, I wept after watching this. I cannot begin to imagine the helplessness and despair the poor little thing must have felt before the animals pelted her to death. If her cries couldn’t bring the human out of these animals, they are not worth living.
    I used to feel really bad about all the fighting and loss of human lives in Afghanistan, but not so much anymore…Recommend

  • mazharuddin

    she must be held accountable for her crime.Recommend

  • guest

    Wonder these barbaric acts would ever be stopped against women :(Recommend

  • ram

    remember this Pakistan once celebrated them as heroes Jihadist liberators of Kashmirs etc, they are just coming back home to roostRecommend

  • Humza

    Simply disgusting. A shame that such behavior cannot be stopped.Recommend

  • Gullu

    But,..see,..well,..do realize…er….so obvious… Hindus do the same thing.
    They kill their daughters at birth. Female infanticide is very widely
    practiced in Hindustan. So it racks up to the same behavior. See?
    Actually from all accounts, these infant baby girls are buried alive. No
    needed expense and rituals of cremation. So I.8 billion Hindus are at
    par with the Muslims. Fact is, there are 600 women for every 1000 men
    in Bharat.
    Now come up with an excuse, we all have heard before. Hinduism does
    not tolerate violence. It is a religion of peace.Recommend

  • Qasim Cheema

    People be careful what you say because remember any punishment set out by the Quran cannot be called brutal etc, you are directly targetting Allah’s ruling. We need islamic education. A married person caught doing Zinnah is stoned and an unmarried person is given lashes. Hence the above difference in punishments. These are prescribed by Allah and we should abide by them. Most of all whatever punishment she has faced right now she will not need to face in the hereafter now. However, before you all go made on me, this could all have been prevented by prohibiting the forced marriage of the woman, which is also the Islamic way, so the basis of all this act is wrong in my opinion. I am just trying to explain to you guys to not belittle Allah’s method of punishments like stoning.Recommend

  • http://thoughtsandotherthing.blogspot.fr/2015/09/vegetarianism-ritual-killings-et-al.html Supriya Arcot

    Assuming its a crime , then both are equally resp. Both should be given equal punishment .Recommend

  • http://ruletheworld.co.nr/ Syed Owais Mukhtar

    This is the punishment for the illegal sex for those who are already married. This is the reason due to such punishments illegal sex, rapes and adulteries are as low as zero.Recommend

  • jayant

    Infanticide is not related to religion. Also google the deaths caused by infanticide and death caused by Muslims on Muslim violence ! Does Hinduism promotes killing of non Hindus ? No. the word Wajib Ul Qatal is Hinduism ? When shown a mirrior most Muslims will come up with an argument that tries to show problems of others . Recommend

  • jay

    TTP member in shirt and pant !Recommend

  • MEHMOOD

    Hahah..well articulated reply to nonsense commentsRecommend

  • MEHMOOD

    Your reply on gullu comments is still awaited. LolRecommend

  • http://thoughtsandotherthing.blogspot.fr/2015/09/hyderabad-as-i-know-and-feel.html Supriya Arcot

    I am an old timer myself . Not a fan of elopement /defying society and such types … But then both should get equal punishment don’t you think so .. .Recommend

  • mazharuddin

    Do you feel shameful of Islamic sharia? This woman had committed adultery thus punished according to Islamic law.Recommend

  • mazharuddin

    You can not changed sharia according to your wish. This is the way ball crumbles.Recommend

  • mazharuddin

    Those who are criticizing Allah law wont forget that They have to stand in front of allah in doomsday. Their halfwit shenanigans can lead them into hell fire. AmeenRecommend

  • DudeFromDC

    I know its useless to reason with someone who thinks barbarism is the way to go, but don’t you think there is a chance that she may be unhappy in her marriage and she being a human being has every right to do what is good for her?Recommend

  • http://thoughtsandotherthing.blogspot.fr/2015/09/vegetarianism-ritual-killings-et-al.html Supriya Arcot

    Dont you think its unjust? Why diff laws for diff sexes? It should be other wise I think . Lesser and lighter punishment for women. If not then at least it should be equal no ?Recommend

  • rationalising argument.

    why don’t you apply this saudi gay prince.Recommend

  • rationalising argument.

    he already answered that lolRecommend

  • Cyz

    First she is forced to marry against her wishes and then she is expected to murder all her hopes and happiness and try to not get out of the chains that have been forced on her? Beautiful logic.

    Recommend

  • asad

    do you have any proof professor ?Recommend

  • http://thoughtsandotherthing.blogspot.fr/2015/09/hyderabad-as-i-know-and-feel.html Supriya Arcot

    I am a fan of Sharia / Manu neeti and such types myself . But considering her age , don’t you think she and her paramour should get equal punishment ? After all she was not that old enough to instigate her innocent lover and entice him to run away with her . It seems to be a two sided story .Recommend

  • asad

    she was not married according to the principles of Islam. So, before writing a worthless comment, you should probably read and research.Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    Sharia says woman has the right to marry to whom she wants to. She should not be forced to marry against her wishes. Have you forgotten? According to sharia those who forced her to marry against her wishes need to be stoned. Don’t defend tribal culture in the name of Sharia. It’s people like you who do the wrong thing by forcing others first and then hide behind Sharia. Very convenient!Recommend

  • Nobody

    This is not sharia. Where was proof presented of adultery? Four witnesses who saw penetration? Furthermore, in line with sharia, punishment for BOTH parties involved is to be stoning; notice the male party to this alleged adultery was let off with lashes. Men twist and alter the rules to suit their sickness and insecurities. Lastly, it’s 2015, not 1400+ years ago; like it or not stoning does not fit in line with a progressive or educated world. Recommend

  • Gullu

    So when you will be writing under your real name?
    There is no shame in letting every one you are a hindu.
    Hiding behind a Muslim name shows inferiority complex.
    Be proud. Regardless, of how the world looks at hindus.
    The great Mahatmaha has set you free.Recommend

  • Gullu

    Thanks a bunch. Appreciate it. Seems like for every Muslim
    there are 180 Hindustanis beating down the doors of ET to
    slide in their fetid comments,…edgewise.
    Well, there is no freedom of expression in Hindustan,
    Unless you are singing a Modi song in conjunction with a
    Shiv Sena band. One wrong move and they will find beef in your refrigerator.Recommend

  • Gullu

    Aww…jeez. You poor thing.
    Must have hit where you live.Recommend

  • Qasim Cheema

    Stoning is for married adulterers and lashes for unmarried hence the different punishments, also Quran and Hadith are for all times not for 100 or 1000 years before “progression”Recommend

  • Minerva

    According to Quran, what is the punishment for forcing that woman to marry and ruin her life? And what is the punishment for her companion? And how do anyone know what happens in the afterlife?

    Recommend

  • Gullu

    Hmm….interesting point. Yes, equal punishment. But then, we are dealing with an Afghan society that would like to stay in the 7th. century. At least the men would.
    Illiteracy is rampant and what they hear or believe is what
    the mullahs dish out. Their only source of bigoted knowledge.Recommend

  • mazharuddin

    You need to learn sharia prior to dishing gibberish about it.Recommend

  • mazharuddin

    Gullu, You seem to have little brain. Imami like you have no right to call yourself a Muslim.Recommend

  • bahram

    agreedRecommend

  • bahram

    If these are muslims, tHEN i feel ashamed to call myself a MuslimRecommend

  • Gullu

    Thanks for the title ‘imami’. Henceforth it will be Gullu the imami.
    Has a nice ring to it.
    Your mini diatribe displays your 7th. century mindset. And your
    mental anguish. Got your bow and arrows by the bedside?
    Well, considering you could have bestowed ‘Khawariji’ …which is more liberal and left of YOUR beliefs.Recommend

  • fze

    sharia interpretted by likes of you.Recommend

  • fze

    why? because you don’t agree that a woman’s wishes should be considered in her marriage? It shows your mentality and the depth of your knowledge about your religion.Recommend

  • Nero

    Please keep them for yourself – for “all times”.Recommend

  • Al

    Stoning was never approved by the Quran, there is no such verse. Anyone claiming as such should provide one before barking. Its only prescribed in fake hadiths and sunnah.Recommend

  • ImamBukhari

    Who is criticizing Allah? We are only criticizing the fake hadiths that you associate with this Quran. There is no verse about stoning in Quran. Recommend

  • Rd px

    We can change it because we know God can’t be unjust.Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    go and get some knowledge about your religion. You seem to be too much under the influence of mullah aka taliban. Didn’t anyone tell you that they have their own axe to grind, wonder what is your aim?Recommend

  • Brar

    Now the girls are there in all fields from Army, Air Force, Navy they are also in judiciary not only Advocates but judges also ,senior civil services but I want to say that there is a change but the speed is slow.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    As soon as you see bigotry, your kind of people term them Indians and Hindus, it works online but how are you going to get rid of those who justify killing innocent children in ur own country, are u going to call them Indians too!! Nothing suits India better though. Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    One thing u both agree on is that Allah’s word can’t be disputed but u don’t agree on the interpretation of it, in fact no two groups of Muslims agreed in the last 1400 years, for a community which on the mere suspicion of someone challenging the word of the god rewards the man death by stoning, nothing could be more tragic. Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    Stoning to death in case of a married woman getting involved in a relationship with another man is justified as I understand, how can that not be brutal? Making this life a hell for a life after death which no one has seen does not make sense. Recommend

  • Ahmed Shafique

    Kudos to the few souls below who have the courage to stand up for the punishment. The punishment is part of Islamic Shariah law almost all except few (e.g. Ghamdi sahab) arein consensus that this is the prescribed punishment for adultery.

    The rest can stop the hypocrisy of crying over the young girls brutal death, since majority of them do idealize having an Islamic law. A proper fully functioning Islamic society will have this and other punishments like amputation, public hanging etc. as a norm.

    Personally, I think Allah wrote Quran for people with common sense expecting that we would be wise enough to do away with these punishments when society matures but that is just me.Recommend

  • Ali

    I’m guessing your a non muslim troll.
    Islamic law doesnt punish innocent, nor does it treat women the way the Taliban do.
    Please grow a brain.Recommend

  • Ali

    Yeah you couldnt have been anymore further from the truth.
    Firstly, islamic law requires four witnesses who saw penetration. The amount of people who were stoned in our history for adultery is close to ZERO.
    Secondly, Afghanistan is a horrible place for women. Women oppression is a part of the culture. So what Afghanistan does in the name of Islam is not Islam, but illiterate backwards culture.
    Thirdly, the ones whom you say are standing up for stoning, well they’re proving to be clueless on basic islamic teachings.Recommend

  • Rimsha Khalid Malik

    the reason why Islam details such harsh punishments is so that people understand the severity of the crime and so refrain from wrongdoings. adversely, people commit crimes as if it is their right and then have the audacity to question the punishment. tell me, lifetime imprisonment in isolation is also a punishment and a terrible one. why doesn’t anyone yack about that ? people are so quick to criticize anything related to religion without having the foggiest idea about the truth.
    as for whether the young girl deserved such a punishment, that is a different case altogether and depends entirely on evidence and the truth. if adultery was indeed the case, then the punishment is justified. if not, then it was cruelty and against Islamic lawsRecommend