For years now, Sakineh Ashtiani has been incarcerated in an Iranian prison, sentenced to death by stoning for the "crime" of adultery. Until earlier this month, the case of the 43-year-old mother of two was known only to the select few who have been following her sad fate at the hands of the Islamic Republic. Today, however, her name has become a rallying cry to end the mullahs' suppression of human—and particularly women's—rights.
A widow living in the northern Iranian city of Tabriz, Mrs. Ashtiani was jailed in 2005 for adultery. She was convicted the following year of having "illicit relationships" with two men following the death of her husband, and received 100 lashes, the punishment Islam stipulates for sexual relations outside of marriage. Mrs. Ashtiani's ordeal did not end there. Her case was reopened in 2007, and new, graver charges of adultery while in wedlock were added. She was convicted once again, and this time sentenced to death by public stoning.
Instituted in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution, the medieval practice entails the partial burial of offenders and their subsequent death at the hands of bystanders hurling rocks. Accurate statistics are nearly impossible to come by, but human rights activists estimate that between 1979 and 1997 an average of 10 people were killed annually in this way by the regime. In 2002, the Iranian judiciary proposed a formal moratorium on the punishment, but it continues to be meted out at the di... >>>
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