Is stoning men's business?
On 11 July 2012, Iran media announced that the Guardian Council, comprising mullahs responsible for ensuring conformity of state laws with Islamic law, had approved changes to laws governing executions. Reportedly, 'legal' executions of minors would be ended, and stoning would cease as a method of execution. The changes must be signed into law by the President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet even prior to his endorsement, doubts are expressed as to the scope and application of these changes, long demanded by humanitarians and human rights activists.
On 11 December 2010 women – together with some men – marched on the streets of New York, their protest directed toward the United Nations (UN) in a call for a resolution requiring all members to criminalise stoning, rather than standing by whilst governments endorse this state-sponsored violence targeting women. Marchers demanded that the UN remove from all its 'equal rights for women' bodies those nation states allowing, promoting or sanctifying through law this inhuman and inhumane punishment. Iran was at the top of the list.
On 19 December 2011, consequential upon women's organisations consistent lobbying, a resolution with 89 votes 'for', 30 'against' and 64 abstentions was passed by the UN 'expressing deep concern at reports of human rights violations in Iran' and 'pervasive gender inequality and violence against women'. 'Deep concern' was also expressed at prisoners continuing to face sentences of execution by stoning' even though there has been a national directive against it'.
On 14 January 2012 in London, women joined together in a resolution denouncing stoning and demanding an end to femicide in all its forms. Roj Women's Association, the International Free Women Foundation and the Organisation for Women's Freedom in Iraq called for all concerned to ensure the safety and security of women worldwide to:
'1. Raise awareness about these crimes and to encourage and support struggles against them in Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere where states legitimise women's slaughter.
'2. Work in partnership with other campaigns bringing awareness about stoning and execution of women.
'3. Continue efforts for recognition of femicide as crime against humanity like genocide is in international Law and to form an alternative women judicial system against femicide.
'4. Denounce these crimes and mobilise our societies to take stands against these medieval practices.
'5. Raise awareness among men and help them to engage in the struggle for women's equality and freedom.
'6. Reform laws and create new laws against all forms of violence and establish Constitutions recognising full equality between women and men.
'7. Highlight Kurdish women's struggles and oppose all forms of violence against them.'
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She is also Visiting Fellow, Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge.