A group of men in Orakzai, Pakistan gather around a woman with a black hood over her head, pick up large stones and throw them at her until she lies motionless on the ground. This is what is depicted in a horrifying video now circulating worldwide on the Internet. The stoning death of this woman in northwest Pakistan was apparently carried out by members of the Pakistani Taliban. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this brutal act.
The "vicious attack, carried out as a crowd watched," said U.S. State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley, "violates all norms of human decency and is a chilling example of the cowardly disregard violent extremists have for human life. There is no justification for such barbaric and cruel treatment of a fellow human being."
Videos of women and girls being severely abused in Taliban-run areas are not unique. Last year, footage widely aired on TV in Pakistan showed Islamic extremists flogging a teenage girl accused of having an affair. Al Qaida-linked Taliban groups have also attacked hundreds of girls' schools.
Elsewhere, women face sentences of stoning for alleged adultery. Indeed, in Iran, according to press reports, 6 people have been stoned to death over the past 5 years. The latest woman sentenced to stoning in Iran is 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian Azeri woman convicted of murder and adultery in 2007. But thanks to an international campaign to overturn her sentence, Iranian authorities have recently temporarily suspended the sentence of death by stoning.
European Commission President Jorge Barroso described Ms. Ashtiani's case as "barbaric beyond words." He said, "We condemn such acts, which have no justification under any moral or religious code."
Stoning has no place in any country, culture, or religion. It is a barbaric practice that unjustly targets women. It is incumbent on governments to firstly outlaw the practice and then vigorously enforce the prohibition against stoning. The U.S. continues to support strengthening law enforcement, judicial institutions, and the rule of law in order to hold perpetrators of such inhumane acts accountable.