TEHRAN, 19 Dec. (IPS) The Islamic Republic is increasing brutal treatment of women in Iran despite calls from the European Union and international human rights organisations to pay more attention to the appalling human rights situation.
The Islam-based Judiciary, a power that like all other important organs of the regime is directly controlled by the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, has ordered the death of at least four women in the last six months, all of them on charges of prostitution or “attitude contrary to the “Charia’a”, or Islamic laws.
Hajjiyeh Esma’ilvand, a thirty years-old woman from the northern city of Jolfa, on the borders with neighbouring Azerbaijan, is the latest victim of Islamic laws, was sentenced to death on accusation of having a sexual relationship with an Azeri man.
Hajjiyeh Esma’ilvand, a thirty years-old woman is the latest victim of Islamic laws, being sentenced to stoning.
"Her (death) sentence is approved by the Supreme Court, but there are no orders to carry out the sentence. We do not yet know if it is by stoning or hanging", the British news agency Reuters quoted an official as having confirmed.
According to reports, Ms. Esma’ilvand was sentenced to five years imprisonment, to be followed by execution by stoning, for adultery with an unnamed man who at the time was a 17 year old minor. Although the exact date of her arrest and trial are not known, it is reported that she has been imprisoned in the town of Jolfa, in the north west of Iran, since January 2000, the London-based Amnesty International reported on the case.
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”.
All death sentences in Iran must be upheld by the Supreme Court before they can be carried out. In November 2004, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence against Hajieh but changed the lower court's verdict from “death by hanging” to “death by stoning”. Reports suggest that the Supreme Court has ordered that the remainder of Hajieh’s five year prison sentence be annulled so that the stoning sentence can be carried out before 21 December.
The news follows reports of a 18-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.
Leyla 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.
Amnesty International UK Media Director Mike Blakemore said:
"This is an urgent case. Hejieh could be killed in the next five days if we do not act quickly. Our members here in the UK are writing to the Iranian authorities, imploring them to stop this brutal execution. Campaigners in Iran are also taking action. But we need more people to stand up and be counted, to tell the Iranian authorities that this is not acceptable.
A month earlier, Zhila Iazadi, 13, was sentenced to death by stoning on decision from a court in the Kurdish city of Marivan, after being found by her devout parents that she was pregnant from her 15 years-old brother.
However, the Supreme Court changed the original sentence into imprisonment after Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian lawyer who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize alerted the international community while on a tour of Scandinavian nations.
Prior to this case, Atefeh Rajabi was hanged in August in the Caspian Sea port of Neka for sex before marriage.
The Iranian Penal Code is very specific about the manner of execution and types of stones which should be used.
The judge, a cleric, who hanged Atefeh himself in the city’s main square insisted she was 20, but lawyers and diplomats who saw her death certificate confirmed that she was only 16.
Amnesty International is aware of at least one case in which a sentence of execution by stoning has reportedly been issued this year. According to a report on 8 January 2004 in the Iran newspaper, a criminal court in the city of Qazvin sentenced an unnamed man to 80 lashes and 10 years'’ imprisonment to be followed by execution by stoning. It is not known whether this sentence has been carried out.
Amnesty International believes that the death penalty is the most extreme form of torture. It is a cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
“It is clear that the punishment of stoning is designed to cause the victim grievous pain before leading to death. Such methods of execution specifically designed to increase the suffering of victims are of particular concern to Amnesty International, as the most extreme and cruel form of torture”, the human rights organisation said.
“One in three women around the world suffers serious violence in their lifetime, at home, in the community or in war, just because they are women”, Amnesty International said, adding that the Organisation is running a global campaign to “Stop Violence Against Women”.
The human rights organisation is calling on governments to repeal laws that permit and encourage violence against women, and on communities to challenge attitudes that allow violence to continue. ENDS IRAN EXECUTIONS 191204
Editor’s note: For details of how to help stop the executions of Hajieh and Leyla M, please go to: www.amnesty.org.uk/action/