It's reported that currently, in Iran there are nine women sentenced to death by stoning on charges of adultery, compared to two men for the same offence . Most women sentenced to stoning are those found guilty of being accomplices in the murders of their husbands. In a few cases married women have been found guilty of prostitution . Women , if not married and found guilty of illicit sex, are sentenced to lashes the first three times. A fourth occasion can lead to the death penalty as happened to Atefeh Sahaleh, a 16-year-old girl from Neka in Northern Iran who was hanged in August 2004.
Iran made a verbal pledge to the European Union to stop stoning more than a decade ago and there was a moratorium by the Chief Justice, in December 2002, on execution by stoning. But there are reports by eye witnesses of the secret stoning of Zahra Gholami in Tehran's Evin prison in 1999. News of the stoning of a man, Abbas, and a woman, Mahboubeh, in the north-eastern city of Mashad, in May, have also emerged recently.
According to news reports the Mashad stoning was carried out in a cemetery. The two were first ritually washed as for corpses being prepared for burial and then wrapped in shrouds from head to toe. The woman was buried in the ground up to her chest and the man up to his waist. A secretly congregated crowd pelted them with stones until they were dead.
"Stoning is regarded as a highly sensitive issue by the regime and the religious and political establishment. There is so much reaction from the international community and human rights organisations to stoning news. This has made it taboo for journalists and news on the campaign is not given coverage by the press as they have been repeatedly warned to avoid it," a journalist told IPS.
Iranian laws discriminating against women can be found at The Women's Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran (WFAFI) .
If , or more likely , when , the US launch its military attack against Iran , the usual suspects of the Anti-Imperialist Left in this country will be applauding the defence of the Iranian regime with the sacrifice of workers blood . The Socialist Party , on the otherhand , will be opposing any attack on Iran but denouncing both sides , saying a plague on both your houses , and hoping that the Iranian working class will reject the demand to lay down their lives for the Mullahs , just as we in the Socialist Party reject the myth that our enemy enemies are our friends .
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