Iran has today launched its media assault on defamed adulteress Sakhina Mohammadi Ashtiani by releasing footage of her allegedly confessing to involvement in the murder of her husband. Her repositioning from fallen woman to femme fatale an effort by the Iranian government to move public support toward her swift execution by hanging, having been forced by international opposition to halt their plans to stone her to death. Either way, a woman dies. Scriptonite investigates…
Stoning? I thought that went out with the Stone Age
No, sadly it didn’t. There is a history of Stoning as a punishment in Judaism and this is endorsed by biblical texts. However, this hasn’t been preached or honoured by the Jewish community anywhere in the world for around 2000 years. For completeness’s sake….the crimes once punishable by death by stoning were (thank you Wiki):
1. Bestiality committed by man (Lev. xx. 15; Sanh. vii. 4, 54b; Sifra, Ḳedoshim, x. 1; Mek., Mishpaṭim, 17).
2. Bestiality committed by woman (Lev. xx. 16: Sanh. vii. 4, 54b; Sifra, Ḳedoshim, x. 3; Mek., Mishpaṭim, 17).
3. Blasphemy (Lev. xxiv. 16; Sanh. vii. 4, 43a; Sifra, Emor, xix.).
4. Criminal conversation with a betrothed virgin (Deut. xxii. 23, 24; Sanh. vii. 4, 66b; Sifre, Deut. 242).
5. Criminal conversation with one’s own daughter-in-law (Lev. xx. 12; Sanh. vii. 4, 53a; Sifra, Ḳedoshim, ix. 13).
6. Criminal conversation with one’s own mother (Lev. xviii. 7, xx. 11; Sanh. vii. 4, 53a; Sifra, Ḳedoshim, ix. 12).
7. Criminal conversation with one’s own stepmother (Lev. xviii. 8, xx. 11; Sanh. vii. 4, 53a; Sifra, Ḳedoshim, ix. 12).
8. Cursing a parent (Lev. xx. 9; Sanh. vii. 4, 66a; Mek., Mishpaṭim, 17; Sifra, Ḳedoshim, ix. 7).
9. Enticing individuals to idolatry: “Mesit” (Deut. xiii. 7–12 [A. V. 6–11]; Sanh. vii. 4, 67a; Sifre, Deut. 90).
10. Idolatry (Deut. xvii. 2–7; Sanh. vii. 4, 60b; Sifre, Deut. 149).
11. Instigating communities to idolatry: “Maddiaḥ” (Deut. xiii. 2–6 [A. V. 1–5]; Sanh. vii. 4, 67a; Sifre, Deut. 86).
12. Necromancy (Lev. xx. 27; Sanh. vii. 4, 65a; Sifra, Ḳedoshim, xi., end).
13. Offering one’s own children to Molech (Lev. xx. 2; Sanh. vii. 4, 64a; Sifra, Ḳedoshim, viii., parashah 10, beginning).
14. Pederasty (Lev. xx. 13; Sanh. vii. 4, 54a; Sifra, Ḳedoshim, ix. 14).
15. Rebelling against parents (Deut. xxi. 18–21; Sanh. vii. 4, 68b; Sifre, Deut. 220).
16. Shabbath-breaking (Num. xv. 32–36; Sanh. vii. 4; Sifre, Num. 114).
17. Witchcraft (Ex. xxii. 17 [A. V. 18]; Sanh. vii. 4, 67a; Mek., Mishpaṭim, 17).
Those Old Testament folks were strict. And to think…didn’t that guy marry his horse on Jerry Springer? How far we’ve come in those 2000 years.
However, despite there being no reference in the Quran – not one – to stoning as form of punishment for any crime – groups of men in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iran have taken it upon themselves to reintroduce this barbaric punishment through their Shariah Law system into the penal code. Infact, Iran only brought in stoning as a punishment in 1979 following the so called Islamic Revolution. Islamic Revolution only in the sense that it took the core essence of Islam and revolved it 180 degrees to create a horrific mirror image.
Getting Stoned in Iran – The Basics
In short, a woman is buried up to her neck and a man to his waist. Witnesses to the alleged ‘crime’, the sentencing judge and members of the public or police then encircle the person and throw stone at them until they die. This can take some time.
‘In Iran, stoning a person to death is not against the law. Using the wrong stone is.’
‘The size of the stone used in stoning shall not be too
large to kill the convict by one or two throws and at the
same time shall not be too small to be called a stone.’
Article 104 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code
Now, Iran is a fully signed up member of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and as such the government is legally bound to observe the provisions of this treaty and to ensure that they are fully reflected in the country’s laws and practices relating to human rights.
Death by stoning violates Articles 6 (right to life) and 7 (prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) of the ICCPR. However, despite assurances of a moratorium on stoning in 2002, it is clearly evident that executions this way are continuing to take place.
Infact, women and men in Iran are still being put to death for consensual sexual acts, and the country still has one of the highest rates of executions in the world. By the end of October, Amnesty International had recorded more than 250 executions since the beginning of 2007, far exceeding the 177 executions recorded in 2006.
Stoning didn’t get off to a great start and few were recorded in the few years’ post 1979. However, in 1986, the regulations were changed to make it possible for anyone with a high school diploma OR anyone simply recommended by the judiciary could become a judge. This has led to an increasing number of religious traditionalists taking their seat at the court. It should therefore come as no surprise that there were reported eight stoning executions that year.
The Iranian Penal Code’s standards and requirements, Article 105 gives the judges – who in Iran are all men – the absolute right to condemn the accused to death by stoning solely on the judge’s documented “knowledge” which could be his subjective interpretation of the case.23 This clearly violates fair trial provisions of the ICCPR that Iran has ratified, including the right to equality before courts, the right to be presumed innocent, and the right to be tried by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal. Can you imagine being tried and found guilty not on evidence, but purely on what the judge thinks they know about you from what they’ve heard?
Men have been stoned. However, there is a hugely disproportionate impact on women. According to Amnesty International: Discrimination against women in other aspects of their lives also leaves them more susceptible to conviction for adultery. Women are allowed only one sexual partner in life, their husband, whereas men are allowed four permanent wives and an unlimited number of temporary (sigheh) wives. Men have an incontestable right to divorce, whereas women have only a limited right to divorce their husbands, leaving them free to marry another man. Many women have no choice over the man they marry and many are married at a young age.
“The lorry deposited a large number of stones and pebbles beside the waste ground, and then two women were led to the spot wearing white and with sacks over their heads… [they] were enveloped in a shower of stones and transformed into two red sacks… The wounded women fell to the ground and Revolutionary Guards smashed their heads in with a shovel to make sure they were dead.”
A reported witness account published by Amnesty International in 1987
But surely that’s it? They won’t do this again – will they?!
At least nine women – Iran, Khayrieh, Kobra N, Fatemeh, Ashraf Kalhori, Shamameh Ghorbani,
Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, Leyla Ghomi and Hajar – are at risk of being stoned to death, along
with two men – Abdollah Fariva and an unamed Afghan national – according to information
received by Amnesty International.
This has to end! What Can I do?
Amnesty International are campaigning against the death penalty full stop but specifically death by stoning. Read their info and support the campaign:
Support an indigenous campaign to stop stoning. Lead by Asieh Amini and her team at Stop Stoning Forever. These women work at enormous personal risk and have been arrested on various charges for their commitment to human rights and making their country a better place. Make it worth their while. Their website:
Essentially, this is an issue about the place of a woman in her society. For so long as Iranian society continues to treat women in this bizarre – Madonna-whore fashion, whether a woman is stoned, hung or electrocuted – she is dead before any court tries her anyway. She is subjugated, treated as property to be traded for money or status, feared as the instrument tempting and tormenting men with her sexual powers- lest she be covered head to toe, and where she dare show disobedience – beat her until she does and kill her if she doesn’t. She is caged within the confines of the civil structure. And all the wonder of her contribution stifled and lost.
This can end. Don’t get angry, get involved.