What strikes me between these two items:
– couple stoned to death in Pakistan (video at the link)
– woman flogged in Sudan
is how much the male participants, those inflicting pain seem to be enjoying themselves. For all the talk of Shariah Law being ultra puritan and repressive, there is a great deal of fun, apparently, to be had in punishing women (mostly, and some men as well). And these punishments always have to be public rituals (although technically not to be leaked to the Western media) that certainly would fit well in the first pages of Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish.
I know Foucault is Todd Krohn’s Sociologist of the Semester, so, I am stepping into his territory here. But I want to note that, in Foucault’s book, the old fashioned punishment, the gruesome and extended torture was designed to be disproportionate punishment to expose the overwhelming power of the monarch. And the complete destruction of the executed body was the representation of what happens when one challenges such power.
I would argue that the same logic is at work here. The Taliban rule by what they see as divine right. The super-charged patriarchal / religious punishment is also the reestablishment of a religious order disrupted by “immoral” people. As such, the punishment has to be public, involving humiliation, and gruesome.
The fact that many men are willing and smiling participants speaks volume to the status of women.
In the case of the stoned couple though, Shariah Law does not seem to prohibit lying as they had eloped but returned after a promise that nothing would happen to them.