I'm obsessed with this subject. It's dark, and it's ugly, and I will never understand the mind, the heart, or the hand that seeks to carry out such a horrific act. Can you wrap your mind around this? A little girl sentenced by a court consisting of men, to be stoned to death by men, because another man decides he no longer has any use for her.
I have read the story of Azar Bagheri, she was forced into marriage at the age of fourteen. Within a year her husband charged her with adultery and she was sentenced to death by stoning. Under the law she is too young for the sentence to be carried out, so she will sit in prison, waiting for her stoning until she turns eighteen. Authorities have already taken her out into the prison yard twice and carried out 'mock stonings', by burying her up to the neck, but stopping before actually throwing the stones.
Then there is the story of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, 13, who was stoned to death after her father reported that she had been raped by three men. Authorities brought Aisha in for questioning, and then accused the girl of adultery instead and detained her. Convicting a girl of thirteen of adultery would be illegal under Islamic law, authorities claim that Aisha was twenty-three years old. Authorities also claim that she came to them admitting her guilt and they stressed that she wanted Sharia law and that she felt she deserved this punishment. But witnesses who spoke to the BBC said that she had been crying and had to be forced into a hole before the stoning, which took place in a football stadium. More than 1,000 people attended. She was forced into the hole, buried up to her neck and pelted with stones until she died.
Witnesses say the girl was crying and saying, "Don't kill me, don't kill me." More than fifty men took part in her stoning. While some witnesses protested loudly no one actually tried to stop the officials who were armed. Nurses were sent to check during the stoning to see if Aisha was still alive. They removed her from the ground, and when it was declared that she was still alive, Aisha was replaced in the hole so the stoning could continue.
Cameras were banned from the stoning but print and radio journalists were allowed to attend.
I've read that stoning has usually been carried out publicly by burying the victim up to her shoulders or neck (so she is not able to use the protective instinct of raising her arms and hands to shield herself) and hurling stones at her. Due to international outcry against this practice, many stonings are no longer public, they are carried out inside the prison grounds with the stones thrown by prison guards instead of townspeople.
The law specifies that the stones should be large enough to inflict damage and pain, but not so large as to kill the victim instantly, so that the stoning may continue for perhaps thirty minutes until death occurs.
It is said that nine out of ten stoning victims are women.
The film 'The Stoning of Soraya M', based on the book of the same name, is another true story of a woman stoned to death at the hands of family, friends, and neighbors. This story was told by a French-Iranian journalist, Freidoune Sahebjam when his book was published in 1994. His car broke down in Soyraya's village (Kupayeh, Iran) soon after Soraya's stoning death, and that is when he learned of her story.
Soraya Manutchehri was a thirty-five year old wife and mother of seven children. Soraya's marriage was an arranged marriage to a man named Ghorban-Ali Manutchehri, he was twenty at the time and Soraya was thirteen. Soraya was pregnant nine times over the next twenty years, two of her pregnancies ended in stillbirths. Over the course of her marriage, Soraya had to endure regular beatings from her husband, insults, and his successful campaign to turn her two eldest sons against her.
Ghorban-Ali was working as a prison guard in another town where he met a fourteen-year-old girl who he wanted to marry. Polygamy was allowed but Ghroban-Ali didn't want to support two families, and he didn't want to return Soraya's dowry, so he had to get rid of his wife another way. He accused her of infidelity, and with only his cousin backing up his accusations the sharia court convicted Soraya and sentenced her to death by stoning.
On August 15, 1986, Soraya was buried in a hole up to her shoulders and stoned to death. Her father, sons, and husband were the first to cast stones at her head. The man who she allegedly had a relationship with was not punished, he was given the honor of casting the first stone after the male members of her family had cast theirs. Then all the male members of the village were able to defend the honor of the village by casting stones at her to kill her. After her death, her body was left out in the fields for the animals to ravage.
For more information on the subject of stoning, and "The Stoning of Soraya M.", and the filmmakers go here: http://www.writingstudio.co.za/page2822.html
This is the only photograph of Soraya ever taken:
When Soraya was nine years old, a photographer passed through her village and left this portrait. Four years later she was married off to the man who would become her executioner.
I read about Soraya's tragic story and brutal death months and months ago, and I had Ray buy the movie for me, but I couldn't bring myself to watch the movie until recently - until I read this quote:
"We cannot indefinitely avoid depressing subject matter, particularly if it is true, and in the subsequent quarter century the world has had to hear a story it would have preferred not to hear - the story of how a cultured people turned to genocide, and how the rest of the world, also composed of cultured people, remained silent in the face of genocide." ~ Elie Wiesel
I know Elie Wiesel was talking about another tragedy, but after reading what he said I felt compelled to watch this film.
It's a film that is more than hard to view, but I'm glad I watched Soraya's story, and I carry Soraya in my heart, and I find myself thinking of her and reaching to her whenever I get a feeling of unrest and this woman who died such a violent death brings me peace.
God, help us.
1 week ago