Update: Sakineh Ashtiani’s death sentence was commuted and she was freed in 2014 after nine years on death row.
Carla Bruni has been branded a ‘prostitute and adulteress’, (both biblical terms to be sure), by the Iranian Hierarchy. They also pronounced that Ms Bruni “Deserves to Die!” This is because Ms Bruni, President Sarkozy’s wife, had the temerity to suggest that the Iranian woman, Sakineh Ashtiani, shouldn’t be stoned to death because, in Carla Bruni’s words:
‘Spill your blood, deprive your children of their mother? Why? ‘Because you have lived, because you have loved, because you are a woman, an Iranian? Every part of me refuses to accept this.’
Because there is global condemnation of the sentence of stoning to death, Sakineh is daily subjected to torture; refused visits by her family, daily paraded out to a gallows, since Sharia Law has decreed that she will be hung instead, and lashed. Still, The Law procrastinates, but only because it is under the global spotlight. Sakineh’s children must bear their mother’s pain and her humiliation.
Why don’t these patriarchal, Islamic countries move into the 21st Century? But it is not only Islam that lives in the dark ages. Catholicism does too, only it calls its equivalent to Sharia Law, ‘Office of the Inquisition’, which still exists today albeit under another name.
In my book ‘Whatever Happened to Ishtar?’ I explore the reasons why members of my father’s Catholic Lebanese family called my mother ‘sharmuta’ (prostitute) constantly when I was a child. It didn’t seem to matter to them that particular men in that same family fathered her children. I used to wonder as a teenager how a woman could be good enough to have sex with, yet not good enough to be treated with respect. My mother was never a prostitute, but those men, being from the Middle East, were used to blaming women for all their ills; they brought the culture with them to Australasia.
I despair for the daughters of those women in Islamic countries whose mothers are branded with such degrading labels. As females, they have no power, not over their lives, not over their own bodies. But their men are free to murder, rape, torture and humiliate with impunity, so long as the victim is female.
Irshad Manji summarises the “case” against Sakineh:
Stoning cases themselves tend to be built on a pile of indignities. Consider the allegation against Ms. Ashtiani: adultery. The charge is manifestly trumped up and the investigation has been stacked from the get-go — so much so that a loophole had to be invoked to convict her. That loophole lets judges claim special “knowledge” for which there’s no evidence. How convenient.
In May 2006, a criminal court in East Azerbaijan province found Ashtiani guilty of having had an “illicit relationship” with two men following the death of her husband. But that September, during the trial of a man accused of murdering her husband, another court reopened an adultery case based on events that allegedly took place before her husband died, the BBC reported. …Mohammed Mostafaei, an Iranian lawyer who volunteered to represent Ashtiani when her sentence was announced a few months ago, called the planned stoning “an absolutely illegal sentence.”
“Two of five judges who investigated Sakineh’s case in Tabriz prison concluded that there’s no forensic evidence of adultery,” Mostafaei told the Guardian. “According to the law, death sentence and especially stoning needs explicit evidences and witnesses while in her case, surprisingly, the judge’s knowledge was considered as enough,” he said.