Scheduled stoning stopped in Iran

Women's rights activists credited for successful eleventh-hour protest.

By Lynn Harris
June 20, 2007 10:42PM (UTC)
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This just in: A public stoning scheduled for tomorrow in Iran's Ghazvin province has been stayed -- indefinitely, one hopes. The "criminals"? A man and a woman charged with adultery under the Islamic penal code of Iran. Despite the country's participation in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as an internal directive banning stoning, the two have been awaiting their sentence in prison, she for over a decade. They have an 11-year-old son.

Broadsheet just got off the phone with Hadi Ghaemi, Iran analyst for Human Rights Watch, who had called upon the Iranian judiciary to stop these stonings and the practice in general. Ghaemi confirmed reports of the stay -- and gave credit where it's due. "This is great news that shows the resilience and success of the women's rights activists who launched the anti-stoning campaign," he said, referring to the efforts of the group Stop Stoning Forever, who swung into action when they heard the stoning had been scheduled, with only 48 hours to spare. "This also shows the vibrancy of Iranian civil society and its ability to force the government, if not to make reforms, then at least to be sensitive to the concerns of civil society." Over the past few months, the group also managed to secure the release and pardon of two other women facing similar fates.


Ghaemi noted that such charges of "immorality" are "overwhelmingly applied to women." Of the people currently in prison for "crimes" of immorality, he says, two are men and 10 are women.

But for all people accused of such crimes, it bears noting that we don't usually get that 48-hour window to begin with, that we hear more often of ad hoc vigilante "justice" -- as with the public execution of Dua Khalil Aswad in Iraq -- only when it's too late.

Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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