Arifa Bibi was executed three months ago, on July 11, after a Pakistani tribal court sentenced her to death by stoning. Her uncle, cousins and other family members carried out the order and threw stones at the woman until she died – all because she had a mobile phone. She was buried in the desert far away from her home village and, according to reports, her family was not permitted to be involved in her funeral.
Stoning has been a common sentence in countries like Pakistan for a long time and is used against women and other vulnerable groups. Stoning is also in the law code for adultery, but the rare sentences in recent years have either been overruled or not acted upon.
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Naureen Shameem, representative for women’s rights group Women Living Under Muslim Laws, says that stoning is used against women particularly as a way to control them.
“Stoning is a cruel and hideous punishment,” says Shameem. “It is a form of torturing someone to death. It is one of the most brutal forms of violence perpetrated against women in order to control and punish their sexuality and basic freedoms.”
The Asian Human Rights Commission explained the act of stoning against women in a recent press release.
“Stoning to death is a barbaric act from a primitive society,” reads the press release. “Society is sent the message that violence is the way to deal with women and other vulnerable groups. Women’s rights are negated through the use of these forms of punishment. Pakistani society has degenerated to the point that, for a woman, keeping a cell phone has become a serious crime.”
Read it all: Woman in Pakistan Stoned to Death for Possessing Cell Phone
Women’s rights activists have launched an international campaign for a ban on stoning, which is mostly inflicted on women accused of adultery. They are using Twitter and other social media to put pressure on the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to denounce the practice.
“Stoning is a cruel and hideous punishment. It is a form of torturing someone to death,” said Naureen Shameem of the international rights group Women Living Under Muslim Laws. “It is one of the most brutal forms of violence perpetrated against women in order to control and punish their sexuality and basic freedoms.”
She said activists will also push the UN to adopt a resolution on stoning similar to the one passed last year on eradicating female genital mutilation – another form of violence against women often justified on religious and cultural grounds.
Stoning is not legal in most Muslim countries and there is no mention of it in the Koran. But supporters argue that it is legitimised by the Hadith – the acts and sayings of the Prophet Mohamed. Stoning is set out as a specific punishment for adultery under several interpretations of sharia or Islamic law. In some instances, even a woman saying she has been raped can be considered an admission to the crime of zina (sex outside marriage).
Campaigners say women are more likely to be convicted of adultery than men because discriminatory laws and customs penalise women more for extramarital sex.
If a man is unhappy with his wife he can – depending on the country – divorce, take other wives or marry another woman temporarily. A woman has few options. She can divorce only in certain circumstances and risks losing custody of her children. Men accused of adultery are also more likely to have the means to hire lawyers, and their greater physical freedom makes it easier for them to flee in situations where they risk extrajudicial stoning.
Activists say trials are often unfair. Convictions are frequently based on confessions made under duress. As adultery is difficult to prove, judges in Iran can also convict on the basis of gut feeling rather than evidence.
Read the rest of this excellent and comprehensive article: Campaign to End Stoning of Women.
The four-member Geneva-based group urged member states to repeal laws criminalising adultery which have resulted in punishments ranging from the imposition of fines to flogging, hanging and death by stoning.
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“The issue here is not of criminalisation of adultery per se but the use of so-called Sharia laws on fornication and adultery to oppress and intimidate women and to uphold patriarchal and misogynistic social systems,” said Hassan.
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In a statement released here, the group of experts warned that maintaining adultery as a criminal offence – even when it applies to both women and men – means in practice that women mainly will continue to face extreme vulnerabilities, and violation of their human rights to dignity, privacy and equality, given continuing discrimination and inequalities faced by women.
The experts point out that in accordance with some traditions, customs and different legal systems, adultery may constitute a civil offence with legal consequences in divorce cases, in respect of the custody of children or the denial of alimony, amongst others. However, it should not be a criminal offence and must not be punishable by fine, imprisonment, flogging, or death by stoning or hanging, such as in the many countries where adultery continues to carry severe penalties.
The experts also said that provisions in penal codes often do not treat women and men equally and establish harsher sanctions for women, and in some [Islamic]countries, rules of evidence value a woman’s testimony as half that of a man’s.
Hassan told IPS the way these laws have been applied by all Islamic countries that have them on the books (and not all do) is to punish and terrorise women who are suspected of transgressing social mores.
Read the rest: UN Takes Action on Sharia Adultery Laws
The UN is having a moment of great hubris here, thinking that its power is such that Islam would yield its laws from Allah to the laws of puny men.
A Sudanese woman, believed to be around 20, has been sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery, and is being held near Khartoum, shackled in prison with her baby son, rights groups and lawyers said on Thursday.
Campaigners condemned the ruling, saying it violated international standards and raised concerns that Sudan might start applying sharia, or Islamic law, more strictly following the secession of mostly non-Muslim South Sudan last year.
The woman, Intisar Sharif Abdalla, was sentenced by the Ombada criminal court on April 22, court documents seen by Reuters showed.
Two lawyers assigned to her case, who declined to be named, said they were launching an appeal adding Abdalla appeared to be under severe psychological strain. “She’s in dire need of a psychiatrist because she appears to be in a state of shock from the social and family pressures she’s under,” one lawyer said.
Abdalla was illiterate and did not have a lawyer or interpreter in the courtroom, although Arabic is not her native language, the lawyers and activists added.
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