In your report on the Afghan woman beaten to death by a mob, no one seems to have drawn any parallels with the public execution of another woman, , by the Taliban in a football stadium in Kabul in 1999 (, 22 March). Her secretly filmed ordeal became a cause célèbre after 9/11, shown as paradigmatic of Taliban evil. The film went global and helped to legitimise the US and allied intervention.
Fast forward to now, March 2015. The US and allied intervention has come and largely gone, having purportedly created the basis for democracy and the ratification of human rights. The images of Farkhunda show a helpless, veiled woman, like Zarmina, being killed, but here the woman is being savagely beaten not by bearded Taliban but by very young men, wielding sticks and carrying mobile phones, looking just like their contemporaries anywhere on the planet. These kids have all benefited, however diminutively, from the possibilities afforded to them by the nascent institutions of post-Taliban .
There is no real pre- and post-Taliban situation, but a continuum of extreme abuse against human rights in Afghanistan since the civil war. Should one be surprised that officials in the government came out in support of the lynching? For what it was worth, Zarmina went through some semblance of a Taliban-style trial, but Farkhunda was murdered in broad daylight.
Women’s rights constitute the only valid indicator for democracy. In Afghanistan once again, this tragedy with a woman’s murder at its centre is a symptom of the potential collapse of the state if human rights are not enforced by law. The women clad in black carrying Farkhunda’s coffin today may well be burying their own hopes and futures.