Sisters in Islam issued this alert calling for the Iranian government to abolish stoning “as a form of torture”. They also publish research on progressive alternative Islamic Family Law, which includes laws on adultery.

This book tells the true story of a person stoned in an Iranian village sometime after the Revolution. Soraya M’s husband Ghorban-Ali wanted out of his marriage, and accused his wife of adultery. She was taken away, buried and stoned to death. The son of a former Iranian ambassador, French journalist and war correspondent Freidoune Sahebjam wrote the book after his experience in the village. His book was turned into a script for the film (also included).

Shadi Sadr gives a brief background on stoning cases in the last 10 years. She then explains how adultery is proven in Iranian courts using “judges finding” (see narrative), instead of witnesses or confession. She also explains how in many cases, the execution of stoning is carried out before the execution of other punishments such as imprisonment, contrary to Article 98 of the Islamic Penal Code stating that lighter punishments must be carried out before more severe sentences.

Sadr and Vahdati detail how stoning sentences are inextricably linked with gender discrimination under Iranian law. The detail this discrimination with regards to: legalized forced marriage and denial of divorce rights, punishments for sexual acts outside of marriage (for women), discriminatory judicial system, and discrimination in the practice of the stoning punishment itself. Because of these discriminatory policies, women make up most of the victims of stoning.

The editor of Middle East and Africa service of the Economist interviewed Grand Ayatollah Saanei about different matters pertaining to Islamic law and politics. In response to a question about stoning, the Ayatollah mentioned that some scholars believe that punishments such as these were only suitable in the time of the Prophet and his successors and that nowadays, the punishment for adultery should be something other than execution.

Grand Ayatollah Saanei, a former member of the Council of Guardians (1980-1981), and Iran’s Prosecutor General (1982-1985) states that in our time, i.e. during the absence of the 12th Imam, and according to jurisprudential views of some noted ulama such as Mirzay-e Qomi, the implementation of hodud punishments (such as stoning) are subject to doubt and may be suspended.

Grand Ayatollah Yousef Saanei, who is known for his moderate views and more women-friendly interpretations of Sharia, states that stoning and other physical punishments within the “Law of Retribution” (qisas) such as hand cutting can be declared as prohibited or forbidden (mamnoo’) during the absence of the “hidden Imam”. [Persian]

This is an interview with GholamHossein Raesi, an attorney and member of the Network of Volunteer Lawyers. He is the lawyer of Parisa A. who has been sentenced to be stoned and also an activist with the Stop Stoning Forever Campaign. The interview details Raesi’s argument that stoning sentences are being issues unlawfully, particularly with regards to the methods of proving guilt of adultery. Specifically, many clients are punished based on the judges ‘knowledge’, which lessons the burden of proof significantly.

Peters discussed hadd punishments under the Islamic Penal Code in Iran, including stoning. He argues that in light of the many restraints put by the shariah on the application of hadd punishments, it is doubtful whether the numerous convictions of stoning were all obtained in conformity with shariah, which stipulates that testimonies and confessions made under duress are not valid. 

This is the website for the 2nd branch of the One Million Signatures Campaign to change gender discriminatory laws in Iran (this site hosted by Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani). There is a good selection of articles on violence against women here, which is regularly updated. The articles available in English are chosen very selectively; most of the relevant information appears in Persian only. Please check here for up-to-date information on the situation in Iran. [Persian]

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