A crowd of men stands by, watching silently

Sometimes the red mist of rage just overpowers the ability to say anything judicious or coherent – and one is reduced to impotent vindictive quivering.

Muslim Khan is beginning to do that to me. He’s the Taliban ‘spokesman’ in Swat, and he’s been doing a lot of talking lately. Every fucking word out of his mouth is disgusting bullying crap. (See what I mean? I can’t characterize it any more eloquently than that.)

The two-minute video, shot using a mobile phone, shows a burka-clad woman face down on the ground. Two men hold her arms and feet while a third, a black-turbaned fighter with a flowing beard, whips her repeatedly. “Please stop it,” she begs, alternately whimpering or screaming in pain with each blow to the backside. “Either kill me or stop it now.” A crowd of men stands by, watching silently. Off camera a voice issues instructions. “Hold her legs tightly,” he says as she squirms and yelps. After 34 lashes the punishment stops and the wailing woman is led into a stone building, trailed by a Kalashnikov-carrying militant. Reached by phone, Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan claimed responsibility for the flogging. “She came out of her house with another guy who was not her husband, so we must punish her. There are boundaries you cannot cross,” he said. He defended the Taliban’s right to thrash women shoppers who were inappropriately dressed, saying it was permitted under Islamic law.

Look…even if you think that the girl did something wrong (which of course I don’t), even if you think she should be punished in some way (which of course I don’t) – even then these guys are a pack of disgusting bullying ruthless mindless bastards. Even if you accept their stupid reactionary stultifying premises, they still come out as utterly disgusting men who see nothing wrong with exercising their strength on people weaker than they are.

I am so sick of reading about groups of men collaborating in violence against a single unarmed woman. I am so sick of hearing about men who can’t see anything wrong with bullying people who are in their power. I’m so sick of it that I can’t say anything sensible about it – I can only swear and rant and fume. They make me want to vomit.

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