16 Year-Old Iranian Girl Hanged for Sexual Immortality

This made my heart drop, all the more poignant since this girl was the same age as me. What can we do to help Iranian girls throw off their veils?

Andrew Sullivan:

This is another chilling story from Iran. This time, a 16-year-old girl is hanged for "sexual immorality" which, so far as we can tell, was a function of being raped continuously by a man three times her age. Money quote:

Being stopped or arrested by the moral police is a fact of life for many Iranian teenagers. Previously arrested for attending a party and being alone in a car with a boy, Atefah received her first sentence for "crimes against chastity" when she was just 13. Although the exact nature of the crime is unknown, she spent a short time in prison and received 100 lashes… [Subsequently], the moral police said the locals had submitted a petition, describing her as a "source of immorality" and a "terrible influence on local schoolgirls".

So she was arrested again. Then there’s this moment in her "trial":

When Atefah realised her case was hopeless, she shouted back at the judge and threw off her veil in protest.

That earned her the noose. This is the enemy we face. And they do this in God’s name.

16 Responses to 16 Year-Old Iranian Girl Hanged for Sexual Immortality

  1. Joe says:

    That was an extremely bigoted post.

    “That earned her the noose. This is the enemy we face. And they do this in God’s name.”

    How can you say that, when all these things define their religion? You basically came out just there and said to the world that “their religion is wrong because they do this and I don’t agree with this.”
    Although in our world religion is not intwined with the government, it is there. So any sort of breach against religion is a crime against god.
    I do not know what religion you follow, but lets take Christianity as an example here. Back in the days when the country (I am speking of UK here, as well as America) was under rule of Christianity. Now if one person was deemed to be a witch (clliched, I know) then all the people living with her would also be taken in and held captive tortured until she was verified as a witch.

    Yes, it is sad and tragic that this girl was executed for her being raped, and it is valiant that she had one last act of defiance against them. But who are you to tell people that their religion is wrong?

    -Joe

  2. Ben Casnocha says:

    Joe —

    Those were Andrew Sullivan’s words, not my own, hence the link to him and the indented blockquote.

    Nonetheless, I agree with him. I have tolerance for all religions. I’m not religious myself. But we cannot get to such a relativistic point where all cultural practices are equal. Some are brutal. Some deserve to be banished.

  3. Wirjo (The Netherlands) says:

    You have to be careful when it comes to these thing and I’ll tell you why I think that.

    Firts of all you need to understand what a culture is. A culture is a way for a group of people to deal with living together. On this basis most of the now holy books are writer, as a guideline for people to live together.

    This is the basis for all religious rules and regulations. How can we live together without having to fight all the time and fear for our lives. How do we determent who is a man and who is a boy. What are the roles of men and woman etc.

    Sometimes these rules have been here for thousands of years. Within the religions people tend to keep to these rules wholeheartedly. Even when the original problem they needed to solve is or can be solved in a other way nowadays. But for a religion its hard to change, who is one person now to change a tradition that is thousands of years old.

    Look at the catholic that believe that solving the aids problem in Africa is not done by the use of condoms, and they tell there followers not to use them (maybe not in so many words). While millions are dying of this disease. Why they can’t (even if they want to) change there believe system.

    Same goes for Iran they have a cultural system based on the Islamic religion. Because its hard for religions to change there cultures I do think separation of church and state is a good thing.

    Killing people is wrong in every instant whatever they did, so don’t get me wrong.

    This is what I thing is going on form there cultural standpoint (I’m not an expert, but I would like to see a comment from an expert) This girl if raped will always be looked upon as a girl that was raped (as would we do here). There is a danger that she created hatred towards men. And no man would have a woman who will not be a contributing part of his family. So the girl will be shunned from her family and village. Her life is over. She can’t find a man that wants to take care of her and she cant take care of herself (even in western culture this is still frown upon, but a hundred years ago the same would have happened to a woman in the west.)

    Again I’m against the dead penalty so from my point of view this is wrong, But form there point of view I think she would have had no chance on a normal life.

    But it’s easy to judge other cultures without looking at the culture itself, Always remember that you look at all thing from your culture. You think they are mad (and they are form our point of view) but they think that our woman walk around like whores. They also see that the America culture is taking over the word, this means that there culture is in jeopardy.

    They feel the same way about American culture taking over there culture as the Americans felt about the communists in the 50’s (and some still do).

    The world is a very small world for all these different believes and cultures to live together. But just a hundred years ago it wasn’t. I believe you can’t juge people’s cultures for within your own cultural standpoint, that’s never fair. Because you make it a I am right and you are wrong fight that nobody will win.

    So please when it comes to seeing other cultures please look further then the judgements form within your own cultural standpoint.

    Even the people around you have different standpoints and cultures, in highschool there are about 30 diffent cultural groups that don’t necessarily get along. None of them are wrong in there context but I also believe they have to be able to change.

    A lot has changed in the world in the last two hundred years with minimum change in the thousands of years before that. So please be patient, we have thousands of years of cultural differentiation to solve. And within that solution we are all wrong.

  4. Jason says:

    Ben gets a pat on the back from me on this one.

    Any way you put it, hanging an underage girl for being raped is an atrocity that cannot be atoned.

    I don’t care if it’s about religion, politics, or anything else under God’s green Earth– THIS WAS MURDER AND IT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN.

    They could have been Buddhists, Christians or Jews–and crimes against humanity occur in ALL of the aforementioned religions, not to mention countless more. I’m against this “punishment” based on my own morals that hanging a sixteen year old after she was raped is fucking ludicrous.

    Practically every religious text, be it the Bible, Torah or Qaran, have passages and “codes of conduct” so to speak that are as archaic as they are dangerous. I’d like to think we’ve come far enough as intellectual beings that such writings could be discarded and/or ignored, however stories like this clearly illustrate that such modern thinking is not prevelant.

    And don’t even get me started about what happens in Africa.

  5. Chris Yeh says:

    Let’s not forget that Sharia law states that the age of sexual consent for females is 9.

    Accepting other cultures does not extend to accepting beliefs that are evil. By that logic, shouldn’t other nations respect the United States’ culture of capital punishment? Or the Rwandan culture of genocide? Most Russians approve of Putin’s war on Chechnya–does that mean we should give him a free pass?

    My best friend is a converted Muslim who would never agree with the actions of the Mullahs of Iran. We’re not talking about Islam being evil–we’re talking about a particular interpretation as evil.

    The Bible itself prescribes an endless series of ridiculous punishments for petty crimes, yet those who speak out against crazed fundamentalists do not speak out against Christianity.

    Executing a 16-year-old girl for having the temerity to be raped when she was 13 (or for removing a veil in court) is evil, and anyone who supports Iran’s right to do this is evil as well.

  6. Sunil says:

    I don’t think people are supporting the evil incident or the attrocious practice, but merely protesting Andrew Sullivan’s expert manipulation in using the following statement.

    ” This is the enemy we face. And they do this in God’s name. ”

    By the same token, a writer in the Middle East can take any number of incidents that are happening there(inncoent civilian deaths in Lebanon, rape and plunder in Iraq) and claim “This is the enemy we face, no regard for life and they do this in the name of Democracy and Freedom….”.

    I don’t think any particular religion has a monopoly on Evil. All religions are inherently dangerous and a major reason for various blood baths that Humanity has seen.

    You should really watch Rick Warren’s video followed by Dan Dennett from TED

    link to ted.com

  7. “A student leader who was on hunger strike in prison has died in Iran.”
    link to bigpharaoh.com

  8. Jude says:

    You might want to read what Sam Harris has to say about religion for one different viewpoint. His website is http://www.samharris.org. He agrees that we shouldn’t tolerate the excesses of religions–however, he extends it to all religions, including the one you might happen to believe in.

    Basically, though, I think that you need to take a cultural anthropology class when you get to college–and possibly a course in diplomatic history. I don’t really think it’s our job to help Iranian girls throw off their veils–at least not if you accept the definitoin of sovereignty as defined in international law. It’s when insanity is forced on other countries, the way Hitler did, that we have a duty to get involved.

  9. I agree that “this is the enemy we face” — but sometimes it wears a dishdasha and waves a Koran, and sometimes it wears a mitre or a Braves uniform or a fashionable dress and pounds a Bible. Insisting that violence or bigotry are more inherent in the religion of Mohammed than they are in the religion of Jesus is to become that enemy. Luckily, there are compassionate leaders in every religious tradition.

  10. Sunil says:

    What bothers me is the fact that the original story that Andrew Sullivan linked to is dated 2004. he picks it up as if it happened now and then people like Ben punce on it to denounce Iran. I think this story is being used in a small way to gather opinion against Iran.

    I can see the orchestration coming along just like they did before going to war in Iraq and plunging it into civil war.

    The neo-conservative moral police is at it again….

  11. Ben Casnocha says:

    Sunil — and why shouldn’t we try to rally opinion against Iran? Yes, I have an agenda: Iran is an evil force in the world.

  12. Jon says:

    From one budding Free-market pioneer I completely agree with you. People spout this BS about tolerance and acceptance at me. When you have a reasoned opinion then we can have an intellectual discussion. I’ve read the Qu’uran, and with what I know of the various interpretations, it’s hard to deny the fact that the religion is one that relies on the violation of personal property rights to enforce it’s edicts, and lets face it, it’s excessive enough to make Stalin look fuzzy.

    So Ben, Here’s to you.

    An Austrian,
    Jon

  13. Sunil says:

    ” Sunil — and why shouldn’t we try to rally opinion against Iran? Yes, I have an agenda: Iran is an evil force in the world. ”

    Ben – I appreciate your forthright and honest answer.

    So in your eyes, Is Saudi Arabia an evil force? Their culture is very similar to Iran. Are you now going to say you haven’t classified Iran as an evil force because of what it stands for, but because it is trying to acquire Neuclear Weapons? In that case I am sure in your mind North Korea is an evil force too. How about Pakistan and India that have nuclear weapons. Hell, In India even now practices like untouchability, dowry and bride burning are rampant. Will you pick one of those news items and classify India as an evil force? (By the way, I am from India). Ofcourse, you wouldn’t do that because India follows the western prescription of Democracy.

    Talking about Neuclear weapons, maybe it is time for a reminder that the only nation on the face of earth that has ever misused it is USA. I am sure you have lots of justifications on why that wasn’t such an evil thing.

    To be honest, I utterly detest this proclivity towards classifying sovereign nations as evil forces just because they don’t tow your line. I don’t see much difference between Fundamentalist Islam and the associated terrorists that paint the west(and their culture) as an evil force and the neo-con right wing fundamentalists of the west that want to play God and reshape the nations.

    I would love to hear your reasons behind classifying Iran as an evil force. I would also love to hear what other nations in your mind are evil forces and what you will be doing after rallying world opinion against them.

    The fact that such thinking continues inspite of what is happening in Iraq leads me to one conclusion: You do not accord the same value to the blood and life of all human beings. Somehow the life of an Iraqi is less valuable than an American.

  14. Ben Casnocha says:

    Sunil — thanks for the response. Will you sign your full name, email, and association?

    Also, I hope to travel to India this fall. Do you live there now?

    I should have been more clear when I said Iran is a force for evil. I was not referring to its culture, even though I do consider cultural practices like hanging a 16 year old girl for “sexual immortality” brutal and evil. I was referring to Iran’s government. Ahmadinejad is a radical president who continues to make Iran the leading sponsor of terrorism around the world. Nuclear proliferation above and beyond basic civilian needs is just one scary element to this picture. Yes, India is a democracy. Do you not believe democracy is preferable to a rogue authoritarian state?

    You say:

    I don’t see much difference between Fundamentalist Islam and the associated terrorists that paint the west(and their culture) as an evil force and the neo-con right wing fundamentalists of the west that want to play God and reshape the nations.

    I don’t think I can respond to this! To compare neo-conservatism…an intellectual philosophy that has nothing to do with God or religion, to radical Islam….

  15. Hello Ben:

    I signed my full name per your request, but I wasn’t sure what you meant by association, but I linked to a blog that I started a while back in moments of inspiration but never followed through :) I have no political associations or agendas, just a normal guy that couldn’t help but respond. I am curious as to why you want my identity, does it change the discussion in anyway? By the way, if it matters, I am not a Muslim either.
    I definitely believe democracy is better than rogue authoritarian states. But what determines a rogue authoritarian state? Pakistan is a rogue authoritarian state in the minds of many Indians and a few Pakistani’s in exile. To USA it is a frontline partner in the fight against terrorism. I personally don’t believe in the Pakistan is a bitter enemy theory that is so prevalent in India.
    To the question of Iran, if my memory serves me right, Bush classified Iran as an evil nation even before Ahmadinejad was president.
    To clarify a little bit, I agree with you completely that practices like hanging a 16 year old girl for “sexual immortality” is brutal and evil.

    My problem is with statements like.

    “This is the enemy we face. And they do this in God’s name.” (Andrew Sullivan)

    “Iran is an evil force in the world”

    Sunil

    P.S: I do not currently live in India. Good luck with your India Trip. I hope you will enjoy it. You might want to read the following article before your visit :).

    link to slate.com

  16. Anonymous says:

    you people think that that a woman being covered from the sight of men is the worst thing in the world, worse than murder, theft, rape and genocide. Where does anyone get off writing any articles that puts shame on Iran and its habit of making woman wear vails outside? Would you rather they took off all their clothes and show their bodies on the internet? or better yet, how about they take their clothes off and do some of the nastiest shit ever imagined? You north american men have turned much of the world’s daughter’s into whores, mainly by destroying the countries in which they live and make them resort to selling themselves for food. Yet you think that a little modesty somewhere across the ocean is something unspeakable? you are all hypocrites, without honour or shame. i wouldnt wish on my enemy what i see your daughters doing on the internet. and if you had enough sense to know right from wrong you would see that your extreme is much worse than their extreme.

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