A Campaign to Stop Stoning

Middle East

By Katha Pollitt, The Nation. Posted February 15, 2008.

Iranian women's rights activists are working to stop stoning in their country. It's time for us to help them.

Iranian judges apparently didn't get the memo about the moratorium on stoning issued in 2002 by Ayatollah Shahroudi, head of the judiciary. According to Amnesty International, nine women and two men are currently in prison awaiting this cruel and barbaric punishment, which is usually meted out for sexual transgressions.

In May of 2006 a man and a woman were reportedly stoned in Mashhad and the government has officially confirmed the stoning on July 5, 2007 in the village of Aghche-kand of Jafar Kiani, convicted of "adultery" along with Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, with whom he had two children. She has been sentenced to stoning also and is currently in prison with one of her children.

In the most recent case, two sisters, Zohreh and Azar Kabiri, have been sentenced to stoning for "adultery." (This sentence came after the ninety-nine lashes meted out for "inappropriate relations," which came after a trial notable for its lack of due process). Equality Now has the whole horrific story, with addresses of officials to address letters calling for a ban on stoning and the decriminalization of "adultery."

The Iranian activist group Stop Stoning Forever has been pressing for a ban since the 2006 stonings. It was their network of volunteer lawyers, in fact, who identified the prisoners facing this punishment, and took up their cases. So far they have saved four women and one man; the sentence of another woman has been temporarily stayed.

The courage of these activists is breathtaking; several are currently under indictment for participating in a demonstration in support of women's rights. You can sign Stop Stoning Forever's online petition here.

Women Living Under Muslim laws has more information about the Stop Stoning campaign, and a sample letter about the case of the Kabiri sisters.

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