Kabul women vehemently defied the male-dominated society to help bury “mentally ill” Afghan woman identified as Farkhunda. The woman was allegedly lynched for burning a Koran. However, the women argued that she was killed for her free thinking.
Hundreds of Kabul women risked religious persecution and the strict customs pertaining to funeral procession that prohibit any woman from attending them, by carrying the remains of Farkhunda to her final resting place. The woman, who is said to have mental illness for the last 16 years, was brutally lynched by a mob of mostly men near Shah-e Doh Shamshira mosque in the heart of Kabul.
Farkhunda had been publicly accused of burning the Koran. But before any judiciary proceedings could take place, she was mercilessly beaten by a crowd. Even when Farkhunda succumbed to the beatings, the crowd did not cease raining down punches, kicks, and blows to her limp body, which was later set ablaze and thrown riverside. Firefighters eventually doused the blaze.
Though Farkhunda was condemned for burning pages of the Koran, an official investigator said there was no prima facie evidence for this. While the attack on the woman, as well as the alleged failure of police to intervene, have been heavily criticized, the women who helped bury the woman are claiming there was an ulterior motive to the lynching.
The women claim the Farkhunda was never mentally ill. The earlier claims by her parents that Farkhunda suffered from mental illness have been strongly contradicted by a relative as well as a neighbor, who also revealed that the Afghan woman was a free-spirited female.
While the neighbors feel Farkhunda aspired to be a teacher, her brother claims that his sister was actually training to be a religious teacher. He further added that their father merely fabricated the story to protect the family. He reasoned that the mob won’t harm the family if they thought the woman was mentally unstable.
After the lynching, the mob set the limp body of Farkhunda ablaze and tossed it near the Kabul river, where it lay smoldering. Though there were police around, they did nothing to intervene, claim the brave women who broke the ultra-orthodox customs that prohibit any woman from participating in the funeral procession or be anywhere near the cemetery.
So far, about 13 men have been arrested in connection with the lynching, but the Kabul women maintain that little was, and is being done to bring the perpetrators to justice. An interior ministry official in charge of investigating the case said he had found no evidence that the woman had burnt the Koran, thereby intensifying the agitation by the Kabul women.
[Image Credit | Massoud Hossaini/AP]