Afghanistan's Justice Ministry has proposed reintroducing public stoning for convicted adulterers, possibly restoring a punishment in force during the Taliban's brutal rule.
Human Rights Watch
and Afghan officials said Monday the sentence for married adulterers - along with flogging for unmarried offenders - appears in a draft revision of the country's penal code.
The U.S.-based rights group urged the Afghan government to reject the proposal, and said international donors should send a clear message that including stoning in Afghan law would have an immediate adverse effect on funding for the government.
Billions have been spent promoting human rights in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, and donors fear that hard won progress - particularly for women - may be eroding.
The developments come as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
is observed across much of the world to raise awareness of the issue.
An Afghan Justice Ministry official said at least two more years are needed before the draft penal code is completed.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Monday that "violence against women and girls directly affects individuals while harming our common humanity."
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS said every hour 50 young women become newly infected with HIV, and that many of those infections are related to violence.
The World Health Organization reported that up to 45 percent of adolescent girls globally say their first sexual experience was forced.