Posted tagged ‘Iran and young girls’

Stop the Hanging of a Child Bride in Iran

October 19, 2016

Stop the Hanging of a Child Bride in Iran, Front Page MagazineDr. Majid Rafizadeh, October 19, 2016

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Zeinab can be executed any day. Instead of continuing with sanctions relief and appeasement policies, the Obama administration should bring attention to Iran’s crimes against humanity. Iran ranks as the world’s top executioner per capita. 

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She was born into poverty and an abusive family. As a young child she was forced by her family to marry an older man. According to the Islamic and Sharia law of Iran, this was a perfectly legal and moral arrangement. Islam encourages young girls to become child brides. Iranian authorities point out that the Prophet Muhammad’s life also demonstrates a similar model for his followers.

After being forced to marry, Zeinab Sekaanvand Lokran was repeatedly raped. But in Iran’s Islamist law, even if a husband beats and forces his wife into having sex with him, it is not considered rape or abuse of any kind, since they are married.  According to the clerics, a wife’s duty is to please the man. The Quran in Sura (Chapter) 2:223 says: Your women are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like.

Zeinab was also repeatedly beaten after her wedding day. Despite the risk she knew she faced, she attempted to leave her husband multiple times, but with no success. She begged the police to help her, but they ignored her complaints, and reprimanded her for leaving her tormentor. The Islamist law of the land does not provide any protection for girls like her. In addition, neither her family nor friends would accept her if she left her husband.

More tragedies were to unfold for Zeinab. Her husband’s brother began also repeatedly raping her.

She begged for a divorce, but her husband would not accept her request for one. She did not have any legal base according to Iran’s Islamist codes to get a divorce. Everything was against this brave, unyielding girl. Yet, the worst was still to come.

At the age of 17, her husband was found stabbed to death. Because Zeinab had tried to escape him so many times, her community accused her of perpetrating her husband’s death. She was arrested and tortured for the next few months. After endless abuse and torment, she was forced to confess that she was a murderer.

It did not take long for the judge to issue a death sentence for Zeinab. She was not allowed to have access to a lawyer at any point of her trial. Once more, men made the decisions about her life and her death.

Zeinab insisted that her brother-in-law was the one who killed her husband. He threatened her to be silent, and told her that if she pleaded guilty, he would pardon her, according to Islamic law, so she wouldn’t be executed.

Just as she was about to be executed by the medieval method of hanging, it was discovered that she was pregnant. Soon after, she gave birth to a stillborn child, most likely due to the stress and physical abuse that she endured at the hands of her captors. Not long after she gazed at her lifeless baby, she was told by the Iranian authorities to be ready for execution.

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “This is an extremely disturbing case. Not only was Zeinab Sekaanvand under 18 years of age at the time of the crime, she was also denied access to a lawyer and says she was tortured after her arrest by male police officers through beatings all over her body.”

Mansoureh Mills, the Iran campaigner at Amnesty International, pointed out:

“I can only imagine how extremely difficult her life must have been. That is why this case is extremely shocking and disturbing, She was relying on adults to protect her and unfortunately no adults were able to do that. Not the authorities and not her family. She tried the police, but they wouldn’t help. She tried her family and they wouldn’t take her back. And she is just a teenager so she had nowhere to turn and so she was forced back to this allegedly abusive marriage until the day her husband was killed.”

The Islamic Republic has hypocritically signed on to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits the death penalty for and execution of children. But Iran repeatedly uses the death penalty to execute people under 18.

Zeinab is one case of many female children who live such tragic lives and then get executed. Last year, Iran executed Fatemeh Salbehi for reportedly killing her abusive husband at the age of 17.

According to the Islamic penal code of Iran, girls are treated as adults when they reach the age of nine.

Zeinab can be executed any day. Instead of continuing with sanctions relief and appeasement policies, the Obama administration should bring attention to Iran’s crimes against humanity. Iran ranks as the world’s top executioner per capita. It is incumbent on human rights organizations, the UN, Amnesty International and the international community to stop this execution and many other similar child executions, which are occurring in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Real War on Women in a Nightmarish Islamic State

January 16, 2016

The Real War on Women in a Nightmarish Islamic State, Front Page MagazineDr. Majid Rafizadeh, January 15, 2016

(The “Islamic state” in the article is the Islamic Republic of Iran, our wonderful partner for peace — DM)

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When it comes to executions, girls are systematically more vulnerable due to the Islamist penal code of Sharia law.

Let’s take a look at the Islamist state of Iran, which creates its laws from the legal codes of Sharia and Quran. The first type of discrimination is related to age: girls are held criminally accountable at the maturity age of 9 Lunar years. (This will automatically put girls at a higher risk of execution by the court.)

Iranian ruling politicians hold the highest record when it comes to the most executions per capita in the world. Intriguingly, in the last two years that the so-called moderate, Hassan Rouhani, has been in office, there have been more than 2000 executions conducted in Iran. That is nearly 3-4 executions a day.

More importantly, Iranian leaders are also the largest executioner of women and female juveniles. Some of these executions were carried out on the mullahs’ charge of ‘Moharebeh’ (enmity with Allah), or waging war against Allah, ifsad-i Fil Arz (Sowing Corruption on Earth), or Sab-i Nabi (Insulting the Prophet).

There are three methods of execution for women and female juveniles: 1. Stoning  2. Public hanging 3. Shooting. Some women are also beaten so severely in the prison that they die before reaching the execution. Shooting, which is the fastest method of the three for execution, has not been used since 2008. Instead, the most common method to execute women is public hanging or stoning. Some of these women are flogged right before they are hanged. Public hanging not only imposes fears in the society but also aims at dehumanizing and controlling women as second-class citizens. According to the Islamist penal code of Iran, women offenses are classified as: Hadd, Diyyih, Ta`zir, and Qisas.

Some of these women are stoned for adultery. But even in stoning, the Islamists and Sharia law differentiate between men and women. Women are buried to the neck while men are buried to the waist. This allows some men to be capable of running away from the stoning, while women do not have a chance for survival, at all. If women are still alive after hours of stoning, a large block normally is smashed over their head.

Women from ethnic and religious minorities, as well as political dissidents, have also been targets of these executions. Based on the latest report, Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N.’s special “rapporteur” on human rights in Iran, pointed out that executing individuals from religious and ethnic minority groups are carried out because those victims were “exercising their protected rights, including freedom of expression and association…..When the Iranian government refuses to even acknowledge the full extent of executions which have occurred, it shows a callous disregard for both human dignity and international human rights law.”

In the latest report, Amnesty International announced: “Execution of two juvenile offenders in just a few days makes a mockery of Iran’s juvenile justice system.” And the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Iran and warned about the rise of executions in Iran which “reflect a worrying trend in Iran….Over 700 executions are reported to have taken place so far this year, including at least 40 public, marking the highest total recorded in the past 12 years.”

In many of these cases related to women and female juveniles, it is clear that they were executed for either self-defense against forced marriage or a rapist, or for charges such as freedom of expression. They often are forced to marry at a very young age to an older person, or someone they do not like, such as in the case of the child bride, Farzaneh (Razieh) Moradi – who was forced to marry at the age of 15 and was executed in the city of Esfahan. These women were beaten and raped, repeatedly, by their spouses or relatives until they could not take it anymore and defended themselves. Some of these girls are being imprisoned and executed based on the fabricated charges of possessing opium. For example, in the case of the 16-year-old Sogand, the police found opium in her father’s house, but because there was no one at home except her, they arrested her. She is still in prison as none of her family members have come forward to save her life.

Some of these executions are based on the issue of “honor.” For example, some of these girls follow their hearts and fall in love with someone they choose themselves. But since their brothers and fathers disagree with this, the females get punished. For example, in the case of Mahsa, a seventeen-year-old, her brothers are the ones seeking her execution. In addition, if an Iranian Muslim woman has sex with a Christian or Jewish person, she will be executed (but a Muslim man is allowed to have sex with non-Muslim women).

Some of these girls are raped, repeatedly, in the process of investigation and forced into “Sighah”- the Shiite Islamist law of temporary marriage – with a cleric, or a member of Etela’at (intelligence), or Revolutionary Guard Corps before they are executed. Amnesty International previously pointed out that there are a “considerable” number of reports regarding this issue.

While the West is looking to lift sanctions against Iranian leaders in a few days and normalize ties with Iran, it is critical to look at the egregious human rights violations that this country is allowing. Is being silent and turning a blind eye to these human rights abuses appropriate? Doesn’t normalizing ties with the Iranian leaders and releasing billions of dollars to them, facilitate their efforts of executing more people, including women and child girls?

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Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a former senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf Project at Columbia University. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@post.harvard.edu. Follow Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.