Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Ultimate Catch-22

A medievalists' joke holds that the difference between a "lady" and a "wench" is that "a lady carries a knife." Without spending too much time musing about what that meant for any poor female whose misfortune it was to be born into the "wench" category, let us turn to one of the few holdouts of medievalism remaining today: Iran.

As is, or should be commonly known, in Iran a woman (apply whichever of the above designations you prefer; it matters little) who is raped risks (should anyone find out about it and unless certain highly improbable conditions are met,) execution as an adultress or prostitute. One might consequently be led to assume that a female who energetically and successfully defends her honor against an attacker--especially when those who should have defended her fail to do so--would be applauded. One might assume unequivocally wrong. Under Sharia it seems that if you are born female, you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

The latest benefactor of Iran's model court system is a teenage girl identified as "Nazanin." Her sentence? Hanging for murder. Her "crime?" Beset by a gang of thugs bent on raping her and her 16-year-old cousin, and abandoned by their two male companions, she pulled a knife and fatally stabbed one of her attackers. The full story here:
iranfocus

The sentence was decided in January. I have looked for further updates and have seen nothing to indicate it has been carried out, but if it has not, there isn't much time. Iranian "justice" is swift. A link to petition the UNHRC high commissioner in this case may be found here:
faithfreedom

Unfortunately, I doubt there is any more promising recourse available and I have little faith in the current government of Iran's respect for international pressure. Be aware that Nazanin's case is far from unususal in Iran. A number of similar cases are mentioned at the above sources and the roster of questionable capital cases from that country would fill volumes. Moreover, Iran is a signatory to the U.N.'s charter on the rights of the child--which opposes the execution of juveniles-- yet routinely ignores that restriction. When you call for dialogue, realize that these are the people with whom you will have to dialogue.

Amnesty International, after a flood of mail, has finally found time in its busy campaign on behalf of Gitmo detainees to weigh in on a real human rights abuse: It has reminded Iran and the rest of us of its opposition to capital punishment for "juvenile offenders" (Nazanin, now 18, was 17 at the time of the attack.) Never mind that in no civilized or uncivilized country on earth except Iran is clear-cut self-defense ruled an "offense!" Thanks a bunch, Amnesty. Now you know why I've been so slow with that membership check.

Hat tip:iraqi bloggers central

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