Pakistan Condemns Girl’s Flogging (UPDATED w/Video)
3 Apr 09 | BBC
Pakistan’s prime minister has condemned as “shameful” the public flogging of a teenage girl that was caught on camera.
Yusuf Raza Gilani has ordered an investigation after the video began circulating in Pakistan.
It shows men who appear to be from the Taleban holding down the girl and hitting her with a strap for about two minutes as she cries out in pain.
Mr Gilani said the incident was contrary to Islamic principles and tarnished the country’s image.
Local sources said the girl had been accused of illicit relations with a man and that the flogging took place about a month and a half ago.
Since then, the provincial government in the north-western Swat valley agreed to implement Sharia law as part of a peace deal with militants there.
The language in the video is of the Swati dialect of Pashto, says the BBC’s Abdul Hai Kakar.
The woman is heard crying throughout and at one point swears on her father that she will not do it again.
Relatives of the man involved in the incident told the BBC he had gone to the house of the girl in the village of Kala Kalay to do repairs as an electrician but was accused of the relationship by militants.
They dragged him from the house and flogged him before punishing the girl, the relatives said.
The Taleban made her brother hold her down during the flogging, they said.
After the incident, the Taleban forced the couple to marry and instructed the man not to divorce his wife. His relatives say he has been left mentally scarred.
The incident happened weeks before the new Sharia courts approved by the provincial government were being introduced in Swat.
Prime Minister Gilani said the incident was contrary to Islamic principles, which teaches Muslims to treat women politely and gently.
He said the government believed in the rights of women and would continue to take every measure to protect their rights.
The Sharia system was agreed in Swat to try to stop the Taleban from imposing their harsh brand of justice, the BBC’s Islamabad correspondent Barbara Plett says.
Previously they had beheaded dissidents and killed women accused of un-Islamic behaviour.
That seems to have significantly decreased after the Taleban leader officially accepted the Islamic courts.
However, it is not clear whether this new justice system will replace Taleban rule in practice.
The courts seem to be operating with some effect in Swat’s main city of Mingora but not in outlying rural areas.
There witnesses say the militants continue to exercise control, if not as brutally as before.