Taliban members have murdered 17 civilians in the southern Helmand province of Afghanistan allegedly for attending and dancing at a party.
The dead bodies -- comprising 15 men and two women – were found on the side of the road in the district of Musa Qala on Monday morning.
This area is under almost complete Taliban control.
Some of the party-goers were beheaded, others had their throats slashed, while some were shot and beaten.
The victims violated at least three of the Taliban’s taboos: unrelated men and women mixing socially; dancing; and listening to music.
“They were having a music party and the Taliban came and killed them and cut off their heads,” said Nematullah Khan, governor of Musa Qala, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Although the Taliban has yet to claim responsibility for the gruesome killings, the attacks have all the hallmarks of their usual brutality against activities they deem “immoral” or contrary to Islam.
The Taliban’s principal motivation in imposing such harsh rules of behavior are particularly designed to control the conduct and movement of women.
Among other things, Afghan women under Taliban jurisdiction must wear the burqa at all times (covering their faces); are forbidden to associate with men they are not related to; prohibited from attending school (aside from studying the Quran); or working outside the home.
However, this is only the tip of the iceberg – some restrictions are deadly seriously while others are absurdly humorous.
Afghan women under Taliban rule are prevented from seeing make doctors; must submit to arranged marriages (sometimes to cousins and often when they are below the age of 16); cannot have their photographs appear in magazines on TV; must have the ground and second floors windows of their homes blocked from public view; cannot operate bicycles or motorcycles, and cannot ride in a taxi without a relative.
On a lighter note, women are forbidden to speak loudly in public; make noise while walking (meaning, no high-heeled shoes), or wear make-up.
The violation of even the most trivial of these rules has led to violent punishment and even death.
Since 1996, when the Taliban became a significant presence in Afghanistan, women have been beaten, tortured, even killed for such “transgressions” as wearing nail polish or listening to the radio.
In November of that year, the General Presidency of Amr Bil Maruf and Nai As Munkar (i.e. the Taliban religious police), issued a decree that included the following passages:
“Women, you should not step outside your residence. If you go outside the house you should not be like women who used to go with fashionable clothes wearing… cosmetics and appearing in front of every man before the coming of Islam.”
“Women should not create such opportunity to attract the attention of useless people who will not look at them with a good eye.”
“If women are going outside with fashionable, ornamental, tight and charming clothes to show themselves, they will be cursed by the Islamic Sharia and should never expect to go to heaven.”
“We request all family elders to keep tight control over their families and avoid these social problems. Otherwise these women will be threatened, investigated and severely punished as well as the family elders by the forces of the Religious Police.”
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.