Any excuse to beat the crap out of a woman.

SEGOU, Mali (WaPo) — On a sweltering afternoon, Islamist police officers dragged Fatima Al Hassan out of her house in the fabled city of Timbuktu. They beat her up, shoved her into a white pickup truck and drove her to their headquarters. She was locked up in a jail as she awaited her sentence: 100 lashes with an electrical cord.

“Why are you doing this?” she recalled asking.

Hassan was being punished for giving water to a male visitor. [...]

The Islamist police had spotted Hassan giving water to a male visitor at her house last month. Hassan’s brother knew an Islamist commander and pleaded for mercy. After spending 18 hours in jail, she was set free with a warning. The next day, she fled here to Segou, a town in southern Mali that has taken in thousands of the displaced, mostly women and children.

It was fortunate, Hassan said, that she was handing the glass to her friend out on the veranda. “If they had found me with him near the bedroom, they would have shot us both on the spot,” she said.