By Robin Gedye, Foreign Affairs Writer
A 19-year-old Iranian girl with a mental age of eight who was forced into prostitution by her mother has been sentenced to be flogged and executed for 'morality-related' offences, Amnesty International said yesterday.
The human rights pressure group has asked Iran's supreme court to stay the execution. The girl, named only as Leyla M, had suffered a "litany of abuse", it said.
"Sold into prostitution at the age of eight, she has experienced horrific sexual violence.
"We will not stand by mutely and let Leyla become the fourth child to be executed in Iran this year." Leyla, who was born in the central Iranian city of Arak, was sold by her family to an Afghan man to become his "temporary wife", aged 12. The man's mother became her new pimp, according to an Iranian newspaper report.
Two years later, Leyla became pregnant and received 100 lashes before being sold on to a 55-year-old man who continued to force her into prostitution.
The sentence was passed on the basis of a confession from Leyla despite her mental age.
Iran, as a party to the international Convention on Civil and Political Rights, has undertaken not to execute anyone for an offence committed when they were under 18.