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Posts Tagged ‘Shah’

Are there any women here?!” bellowed John Cleese to a bearded rabble in one of the opening scenes of Monty Python’s 1979 satirical smash-hit The Life Of Brian. Set at the time of Christ, Cleese played a Jewish official overseeing the stoning of a man convicted of uttering the name of God and the crowd were actually women in fake beards, their gender prohibiting any involvement in the heretic’s punishment. Death by stoning seemed a ridiculous enough notion on the spoof film’s release over thirty years ago and yet is a method of execution still in use today.

Which is why the case of Sakineh Mohammedi Ashtiani in Tabriz, Iran, has caused such outrage. Although it’s difficult to present clear details on the case when Iranian journalism is heavily censored, the facts state that since her husband’s death some time before, Sakineh engaged in ‘illicit relationships’ with two men, was found guilty of such in 2006 and sentenced to 99 lashes of the whip. This punishment was carried out but when one of the men was later charged with the manslaughter of her husband, she was apparently tried for complicity in the murder, acquitted and sentenced to death by stoning for adultery at the behest of the judge, who had the power to overrule a jury verdict based on his own ‘knowledge’. He believed that if she slept with the man who killed her husband after his suspicious death, she must have been entangled before the murder. There are more details which remain unclear – the unsubstantiated allegations of involvement in her husband’s death, a retracted confession which she claims was made under duress and her ability to speak only Turkish and not the Persian language Farsi which put her at a disadvantage in a court of law. Perhaps the international interest in this case is a nuisance to Iranian authorities but if their media were uncensored and human rights policies were not so completely out-of-line with their inclusion in the United Nations, to put it blithely, they wouldn’t have this problem. As it stands, Iran reneged on an agreement with the U.N. to allow a Torture Inspector to visit the country in February this year and as yet, there have been no alternative measures to facilitate this crucial investigation. An informative post regarding Iran’s gender-aparthedist regime and its contravention of U.N. Human Rights on the Status of Women, complete with sample letters and contact details, can be found on Mission Free Iran.

Building pressure from public petitions and human rights watchdogs in the last few weeks led the Iranian justice system to issue a statement: “Stoning to death exists in our constitution and our judiciary cannot change its course just because of pressure and campaigns by the West.

So while some reports suggest otherwise, the fate that awaits Ms. Ashtiani could be to hang but it’s just as likely that she may be buried up to the neck before men pelt her with stones until she dies. Another fifteen people also face a similarly brutal fate and the number awaiting sentencing is far higher.

The penalty for adultery under Article 83 of the penal code, called the Law of Hodoud is flogging (100 lashes of the whip) for unmarried male and female offenders. Married offenders may be punished by stoning regardless of their gender, but the method laid down for a man involves his burial up to his waist, and for a woman up to her neck (article 102)
Article 104 of the Law of Hodoud provides that the stones should not be so large that a person dies after being hit with two of them, nor so small as to be defined as pebbles, but must cause severe injury. This makes it clear that the purpose of stoning is to inflict grievous pain on the victim, in a process leading to his or her slow death.
[www.wfafi.org] Click for short .pdf of Laws Against Women in Iran.

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