DUBAI, March 18 (Reuters) - An Iranian woman sentenced to die by stoning for adultery and later given a 10-year jail term instead has been allowed to leave prison, the judiciary said, in a new twist to a case that has triggered years of criticism of Iran's rights record.

A judiciary spokesman told Reuters that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani had been given "a leave" from prison several weeks ago for good behaviour. He said, without elaborating, that the decision was a sign of "our religion's leniency towards women".

Main Findings
 
[Trigger warning: details of sexual assault and torture]
 
This report documents abuses to which the criminal justice system subjects women during arrest, interrogation, trial, and imprisonment. Between December 2012 and April 2013, Human Rights Watch interviewed 27 women and 7 girls, Sunni and Shia; their families and lawyers; medical service providers in women’s prisons; civil society representatives; foreign embassy and United Nations staff in Baghdad; Justice, Interior, Defense, and Human Rights ministry officials, and two deputyprime ministers. We also reviewed court documents, lawyers’ case files, and government decisions and reports.
Introduction
 
1. Many countries are witnessing a significantly disproportionate rate of increase of women being incarcerated, compared to their male counterparts. Globally, women and girls constitute a minority of the prison population as a whole, and it is estimated that they represent between 2 and 9 per cent of the total population. Throughout the world, women prisoners face similar human rights violations 
relating to the causes that led to their imprisonment, the conditions they face in prison and the consequences of their incarceration.

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