An anonymous woman, covered from head to toe in a blue burka, is dragged across a football pitch and shot in front of 30,000 spectators. This haunting image of Taliban justice was filmed secretly in Channel 4’s award-winning documentary Beneath the Veil broadcast in June 2001. The woman was Zarmina, 35-year-old mother of seven. In a new Dispatches film, Lifting the Veil, Carla Garapedian went to Afghanistan to discover her story and see whether women’s lives have improved since the fall of the Taliban.
After a secret trial, Zarmina was jailed with her six-month-old twins. They were confined to one room for three years. She confessed that her husband, Alozai, had discovered she had committed adultery saying: ‘He said, “Tomorrow I will go to the Taliban and they will stone you to death.” That night I was afraid. I hit him over the head with a mallet.’
Money could have saved Zarmina’s life. The final Supreme Court ruling stated that her life would have been spared if she paid 10,000 dirhams ($8,000 dollars) to her seven children for the loss of their father. But she had no money. Under Taliban law, Zarmina was judged by her own children. Children often participated in Taliban justice and witnessed executions. Alozai’s brother brought the couple’s children to court. Zarmina’s mother says: ‘They were always beating the children to say their mother had killed.’