A 16-year-old Afghan girl has been flogged for allegedly having an affair and her purported boyfriend fined $1,600 in a rural district under government control, local officials said Saturday.
The girl, who has been named only as Sabera, is in poor health since the incident on September 9 in Jaghuri district of Ghazni province, said the head of the provincial women's affairs department, Shukuria Wali.
The Taliban have strongholds in Ghazni, but Jaghuri is under government control and is dominated by ethnic Hazaras, who are generally considered moderate by Afghan standards and do not have strict tribal codes observed by Pashtuns, who dominate the ranks of the Islamist militia.
"According to the information we have, Sabera was first wrapped in a white cloth and then flogged in front of village elders and family members. I have heard she is not in good health," Wali told AFP.
The man who allegedly had the affair with Sabera was fined 80,000 Afghanis ($1,600), she said.
Jaghuri governor Zafar Sharif confirmed the incident and said a government and rights delegation had been sent to investigate.
Afghanistan is an extremely conservative Muslim country, where unmarried girls are often confined to the home and forbidden from maintaining any contact with men outside the immediate family.
Public executions and flogging of alleged adulterers were common under the 1996-2001 Taliban regime.
Although significant progress has been made on women's rights since a US-led invasion brought down the Taliban, many fear those gains are under threat as NATO troops leave and Kabul seeks peace with Islamist insurgents.
In July, a 22-year-old woman was shot dead for alleged adultery as dozens of men cheered in a village in Parwan province, north of Kabul. The incident was captured in a horrific video which drew international outrage. The Taliban denied any involvement.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the execution as un-Islamic and unforgivable.
According to the US State Department, out of the eight million students enrolled in Afghan schools today, nearly 40 percent are girls. That contrasts sharply with 2002 when there were only 900,000 children in schools, virtually none of them girls.