An Iranian woman facing execution by stoning for adultery is believed to still be alive, even though the sentence was reportedly due to have been carried out on Tuesday 21 December.
Hajieh Esmailvands death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court last month. Her unnamed co-defendant is at risk of imminent execution by hanging. Amnesty International members have been faxing urgent appeals to the Iranian authorities, calling for the execution to be stopped, and the organisation believes there is still time for supporters to take action, to save Hajieh Esmailavands life.
News reports, in addition to womens rights websites in Iran, suggest that the judiciary has confirmed that Hajieh Esmailvand is in detention, and that her execution has not been carried out. The judiciary is reportedly considering the method of execution and Amnesty International hopes that this means it will reconsider the sentence itself in accordance with Irans international obligations.
According to reports, Hajieh Esmailvand was sentenced to five years imprisonment, to be followed by execution by stoning, for adultery with an unnamed man who at the time was a 17-year-old minor. Although the exact date of her arrest and trial are not known, it is reported that she has been imprisoned in the town of Jolfa, in the north west of Iran, since January 2000.
The Iranian Penal Code is very specific about the manner of execution and types of stones which should be used. Article 102 states that men will be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts for the purpose of execution by stoning. Article 104 states, with reference to the penalty for adultery, that the stones used should not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones.
All death sentences in Iran must be upheld by the Supreme Court before they can be carried out. In November 2004, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence against Hajieh Esmailvand but changed the lower courts verdict from death by hanging to death by stoning. Reports suggest that the Supreme Court ordered that the remainder of Hajiehs five year prison sentence be annulled so that the stoning sentence could be carried out before 21 December.
Amnesty International UK Media Director Mike Blakemore said:
Our members here in the UK are faxing the Iranian authorities, imploring them to stop this brutal execution. Campaigners in Iran are also taking action. But we need people to continue to stand up and be counted, to tell the Iranian authorities that this is not acceptable.
Every day, thousands of women across the world face repression and violence, just because they are women. From the battlefield to the bedroom, women are at risk. Violence against women is a human rights atrocity and one we must tackle immediately.
The news follows reports of a 19-year old girl, Leyla M, who has a mental age of eight, reportedly facing imminent execution for morality-related offences in Iran after being forced into prostitution by her mother as a child. According to a Tehran newspaper report of 28 November, she was sentenced to death by a court in the central Iranian city of Arak and the sentence has now been passed to the Supreme Court for confirmation.
Leyla M was reportedly sentenced to death on charges of acts contrary to chastity by controlling a brothel, having intercourse with blood relatives and giving birth to an illegitimate child. She is to be flogged before she is executed. She had apparently confessed to the charges.
Leyla was forced into prostitution by her mother when she was eight years old, according to the 28 November report, and was raped repeatedly thereafter. She gave birth to her first child when she was nine, and was sentenced to 100 lashes for prostitution at around the same time. At the age of 12, her family sold her to an Afghan man to become his temporary wife. His mother became her new pimp, selling her body without her consent. At the age of 14 she became pregnant again, and received a further 100 lashes, after which she was moved to a maternity ward to give birth to twins. After this temporary marriage, her family sold her again, to a 55-year-old man, married with two children, who had Leylas customers come to his house.
One in three women around the world suffer serious violence in their lifetime, at home, in the community or in war, just because they are women. Amnesty International is running a global campaign to 'Stop Violence Against Women'. The human rights organisation is calling on governments to repeal laws that permit and encourage violence against women, and on communities to challenge attitudes that allow violence to continue. For more information visit www.amnesty.org.uk/svaw