Monday, December 20, 2004

Save A Life

In Iran, the fundamentalist interpretation of the Sharia law has caused two women to be given death sentences for "crimes against morality".

Hajieh Esmailvand has been sentenced to a five-year prison sentence, followed by an execution by stoning. She may be stoned to death any time this week:

The Iranian Penal Code is very specific about the manner of execution and types of stones which should be used. Article 102 states that men will be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts for the purpose of execution by stoning. Article 104 states, with reference to the penalty for adultery, that the stones used should "not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones".

Her unnamed codefendant is scheduled to be hanged.

Also in Iran:

The news follows reports of a 19-year old girl, "Leyla M", who has a mental age of eight, reportedly facing imminent execution for "morality-related" offences in Iran after being forced into prostitution by her mother as a child. According to a Tehran newspaper report of 28 November, she was sentenced to death by a court in the central Iranian city of Arak and the sentence has now been passed to the Supreme Court for confirmation.
Leyla M was reportedly sentenced to death on charges of "acts contrary to chastity" by controlling a brothel, having intercourse with blood relatives and giving birth to an illegitimate child. She is to be flogged before she is executed. She had apparently "confessed" to the charges.
Leyla was forced into prostitution by her mother when she was eight years old, according to the 28 November report, and was raped repeatedly thereafter. She gave birth to her first child when she was nine, and was sentenced to 100 lashes for prostitution at around the same time. At the age of 12, her family sold her to an Afghan man to become his "temporary wife".
His mother became her new pimp, "selling her body without her consent". At the age of 14 she became pregnant again, and received a further 100 lashes, after which she was moved to a maternity ward to give birth to twins. After this "temporary marriage", her family sold her again, to a 55-year-old man, married with two children, who had Leyla's customers come to his house.

These are grave injustices. Amnesty International is working desperately to influence the Iranian authorities. It is important to put pressure on them and all other religious fundamentalists who refuse to see the compassion and fairness that is in their religions.

And no, this post doesn't mean that I advocate attacking Iran. That would be a stupid thing to do, given that bombs differentiate between the innocent and guilty even less than the Iranian mullahs.