To avoid being whipped, mutilated, and jailed, women in Timbuktu now have to wear black veils and loose-fitting clothing. Radical Islamists, who took control of the city months ago, are laying down their law – Sharia law – and for the first time since they’ve arrived, they’re specifically targeting women.
Over the past few weeks, Islamists from two armed groups – Ansar Dine and Mujao, who took over northern Mali in April – have increasingly made use of corporal punishment against the local population. This includes whipping, amputations, and even stoning people to death who do not obey Sharia law.
In Timbuktu, the first amputation-as-punishment took place on September 16. Islamists cut the hand of a man suspected of having committed theft. Two months earlier, a man and women accused of having had an extra-marital affair were whipped in public.
Four days ago, in the markets and at the hospital, Islamists began to ask women to cover their heads entirely [Editor’s Note: many women wore light veils that showed some of their hair]. In a message broadcast on the radio on Thursday, they also announced that women were no longer allowed outside after 11 p.m. Since then, the Islamist fighters that patrol the streets have been monitoring the women, and they hit women who don’t obey this new rule with their sticks.
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