An Iranian woman is framed for adultery, then bound, gagged and buried to her waist in dirt before being stoned to death in a bloody and harrowing sequence in a new film in US cinemas this week.
The movie, The Stoning of Soraya M., is a dramatization based on the bestselling book of the same name by a French-Iranian journalist about a woman's death in an Iranian village in 1986.
The film aims to give a dramatic condemnation of the practice, which still occurs in countries including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia, Nowrasteh told Reuters.
This is overdue and it has been too long suppressed as an issue for open discussion, said the US-born director, who is of Iranian descent and spent part of his childhood in Iran: Fundamentally this film is about injustice.
The film stars exiled Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, whose character tells a passing journalist the story of her murdered niece, who was framed for infidelity by her divorce-seeking husband.
Those who say the stoning in this film is graphic should see a real one, Aghdashloo said.
Last month a woman named Semse Allak was buried in a corner of a municipal cemetery in Turkey. She, unmarried and pregnant, had died from a stoning.
When she died on June 7, no-one from her family and relatives claimed her body and attended the funeral.
Villagers and local lawyers said Ms. Allak - as well as the man who had made her pregnant - had been killed to restore the 'honor' of their murderous families.
For seven months after her stoning, Ms. Allak lay semi-conscious, her skull crushed, unable to move or speak. Relatives visited once, in the beginning, to tell the hospital staff that they could not pay for her care. The fetus inside Ms. Allak
died six weeks after the attack.
Just two days before Ms. Allak's funeral, the elected Parliament of this predominantly Muslim nation approved a sweeping human rights law that, among other things, abolished a provision that often reduced the prison terms for murders committed in
the name of "family honor."
The legislation is part of a broader effort to secure Turkey's long-hoped-for admission to the European Union and, more profoundly, to answer the centuries-old question of Turkey's place in the world: whether in Europe or the Middle East.
The death of Ms. Allak underscores the distance between legislative pronouncements emanating from Ankara, Turkey's modern capital, and the sometimes grim, medieval realities of everyday life in other parts of the country.
"Honor is not a trivial thing," shouted Celilie Allak, Ms. Allak's sister-in-law, explaining the deaths. "What else were we supposed to do?"
Ms. Allak's brother, Mehmet, as well as four other relatives, have been charged in the murder of the man, Hila Acil, who was stoned to death at the same time in a field outside town. Despite last month's legislative changes, Mr. Allak's lawyer,
Salih Demirkesen, said he was confident the local judges would understand.
Shadi Sadr has helped Iranian women with free legal assistance and has started a campaign against stoning.
She's been awarded one of the foremost Dutch human rights prizes, the Human Rights Defenders Tulip Award. But not before experiencing the regime's violence against women first-hand.
They beat me and forced me to go with them , Shadi Sadr tells Dutch radio. She was detained last July in the wake of popular protests against president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and brought to the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. Her
interrogators knew exactly who she was.
In 2004, Sadr had founded Raahi: an organisation for women in legal trouble. Because Iranian women have few rights and even less independent access to funds, they're often helpless in court. Raahi offered them free legal assistance, until the
authorities closed it down.
She began a campaign to defend women who are sentenced to stoning , she says. Because the victims of this traditional - and in the eyes of many barbaric - form of punishment are almost never men.
When she was detained in July, her interrogators at Evin Prison accused her of being controlled by foreign powers out to overthrow president Ahmadinejad.
The Dutch government has awarded her the Human Rights Defenders Tulip Award for her extraordinary courage . But, she says, it's not just her struggle that's being recognized in this way.
She dedicates the award - which she received from Dutch foreign minister Maxime Verhagen in The Hague - to all the people in Iran who fight every day to get their rights. Despite the fact that the protests against the president's
re-election were crushed, she remains optimistic.
Projects The Human Rights Defenders Tulip Award comes with a stipend of 10,000 euros. In addition, it includes funding of up to 100,000 euros for projects proposed by the winner, to further promote her or his cause.
Maryam Namazie and Mina Ahadi, have had their pages on Facebook disabled.
Both were campaigning to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani from being stoned to death in Iran.
Maryam and Mina have asked for support in their campaign to get their Facebook pages reinstated.
ICAS' Abbas Goya has started a campaign on Facebook itself.
Update: One Restored, One to Go
22nd September 2010. From Maryam Namazie
By the way, Facebook had disabled Mina and my accounts recently right before the 18 September day of action for Sakineh and against stoning. After many letters of protest from supporters, and an
open letter to Facebook founders by a number of well-known personalities, my account has been enabled again, though Mina's has not.
Please keep writing to Facebook until they enable her account as well.
A 28-year-old Pennsylvania man has been charged with murder after telling police he stoned to death a 70-year-old man after the senior citizen allegedly made unwanted sexual advances toward him.
John Joe Thomas told police he beat Murray Seidman using a sock that was stuffed with rocks because he read in the Old Testament that homosexuals should be stoned to death. The elderly man was hit in the head about 10 times, police said.
The relationship between the two is not known, but police said Thomas was the sole beneficiary of Seidman's will.
Thomas said he received a message in his prayers that he must kill Seidman.
And indeed The Bible does seems to back up Thomas and his resort to violence:
"If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives." (Leviticus 20:13 New American Bible)
Ofcom clears Iranian TV station over woman's murder reconstruction
Is this really the right sort of job for TV censors who usually spend all their time deliberating how sex on TV can be further reduced?
These are diplomatic and human rights issues where people's lives are at risk. It comes across as pathetic that Ofcom somehow take the word of the abominable Iranian authorities that the participants were not under duress. There is simply no
point throwing 'taste and decency' concerns around like this. They may just as well try to impose a rule of no death by stoning before the 9pm watershed.
Ofcom has ruled that Iran's state-run Press TV station, which has offices in London, did not breach the UK's broadcasting rules in transmitting a programme that showed an Iranian woman participating in the reconstruction of her alleged part in
the murder of her husband.
In response to a complaint made by the Iranian human rights campaigner Fazel Hawramy, who asked whether it was ethical for Press TV to make the imprisoned son play his murdered father, Ofcom said in a letter, seen by the Guardian, that the
broadcaster had not breached its code.
Given the broadcaster's assurances that both Sakineh Ashtiani and her son willingly participated in this programme, we considered that the context was not materially misleading so as to cause harm and offence, Adam Baxter, standards
executive of the media regulator, wrote to Hawramy.