To Execute a Victim of Attempted Rape

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He can be reached at rafizadeh@fas.harvard.edu. Follow Dr. Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.


jabbari21n-2-webA few days ago, the United Nations and various international human rights groups joined a growing call for the Islamic Republic of Iran to halt the execution of a woman scheduled for Monday.  

Iran’s court has sentenced Reyhaneh Jabbari to death for the 2007 killing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, who was a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Jabbari was acting in self-defense against Sarbandi, who attempted to rape her, and she never received a fair trial and due legal process.

According to testimony of “reliable sources” and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sarbandi hired the 19-year-old Jabbari, an interior designer, to work in his office. While Sarbandi was attempting to sexually harass and rape Jabbari, a struggle began, and she stabbed him.

Therefore, Jabbari was sentenced to death for her action under the Islamic judiciary system of Iran. Why would a young professional woman be executed for defending herself against unwelcome actions from her superior, a sexual abuser?

The profound irony, and the peak of the Islamic Republic’s hypocrisy, became clear this week in a speech marking Women’s Day, when Iranian president Hassan Rouhani made international headlines by condemning any form of sexual discrimination and advocating for equal opportunities and rights for women.

According to Fars News, while speaking at the National Forum on Women Shaping Economy and Culture in Tehran Rouhani pointed out, “We will not accept the culture of sexual discrimination.”

The liberal and mainstream media took these remarks as promoting and projecting a democratic and humane image of the Iranian president.

According to the 104-page UN report and UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran Ahmed Shaheed, the number of executions of women and the number of prisoners on death row has increased under President Rouhani’s rule.

Beyond these sweet remarks, President Rouhani did not even scratch the surface of women’s rights regarding the actual day-to-day discrimination that women face in the Islamic Republic. He solely commented on investing in electronic technology and marketing to lay the ground for women’s scientific progress.

In other words, there was no tangible, legitimate, or nuanced explanation about how to address the institutionalized discrimination against women or how secure equality for them.

For example, he did not mention practical solutions for ongoing gender inequality in terms of marriage and divorce, citizenship rights, nationality, international travel, employment, inheritance, child custody, among other things.

Many Iranian women activists who live in the Islamic Republic, and several of those campaigners whom I have interviewed, shed light on a different reality for women rights under Rouhani’s presidency.

Many women voted for Rouhani due to his promises for social freedom, gender equality, and for being a moderate candidate.  Nevertheless, as Sima, an Iranian teacher and women’s rights activist who lives west of Tehran in the city of Karaj, stated,

“President Rouhani has been successful in making a nuclear deal and resolving some of the tension regarding nuclear issues, but the reality is that women’s conditions have not changed. The conditions are still the same as those of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s era.”

In mid-2013, based on a ruling passed by the constitutional body in the Islamic Republic, women are banned from running in presidential elections. A recent university policy excluded women from entering 77 courses of study. These are only few examples of recent laws being passed.

Some might make the argument that Iranian women are serving in the parliament or that President Rouhani has three female vice presidents (Elham Amin-Zadeh, Shahindokht Molaverdi, and Masoumeh Ebtekar).  However, we need to comprehend the fact that a handful of carefully selected women does not represent the conditions that millions of other disenfranchised women in the Islamic Republic face. According to the World Bank, the female population in Iran (last measured in 2011) is roughly 49.54 percent, approximately 38.1 million people.

The contradictory messages from the Islamic Republic intriguingly come from top officials and from within the system. While President Rouhani has rhetorically urged for gender equality and promotions of women’s rights, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pointed out in comments this week that gender equality is “one of the biggest mistakes of the Western thought.”

For the Supreme Leader, women’s rights and employments are acceptable as long as these rights do not come in conflict with “the main issue” of family. In other words, from the Iranian hardliners and conservatives’ point of view, based on underlying ideological biases, women’s primary role in society is the fulfillment of the “family environment and household.”

Rouhani’s message and position should not be analyzed as a reversal or a renegade move vis-à-vis the hardliners. Rouhani’s social base is the moderate, pragmatic section of the society and the millions of women who voted for him. This social base will be needed for Rouhani to run for reelections in a few years.

The likelihood of any positive shift in women’s rights is close to zero due to the institutionalized, unfair process in Iran’s judiciary system, Islamic and Sharia law, the fundamental ideological commonalities among moderates and hardliners when it comes to women’s critical rights, as well as the power of the Basij, the moral police, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and other governmental hardliner forces in enforcing the law. 

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  • JVictor

    The so-called “war on women” by the evil Republicans pales in comparison
    to the realities of the treatment of women in Muslim culture. It sure
    looks like Islam has a codified mechanism for carrying out war on women.
    But, since Islam is unassailable and untouchable, young Christian
    girls in Nigeria can be kidnapped and sold into slavery by Muslims,
    Muslim girls have their genitalia mutilated to keep them from enjoying
    sexual relations, Muslim girls who reject the arranged weddings by their
    fathers are subjected to honor killings, and Muslim girls who stand up
    against their rapists are sentenced to death. No one on the left dares
    to use the phrase “war on women” to describe these atrocities
    perpetrated against women.

    • lisa741

      My Uncle Isaac just got a nice 12 month old
      Jeep from only workin on a pc at home… Read Full Article F­i­s­c­a­l­P­o­s­t­.­ℂ­o­m

      • dad1927

        Go to Iran, lady. Lots need jeeps there

  • Chiron_Venizelos

    For so long as the non-muslims allow the muslims to go unchallenged for this and their other inhumane treatments of other human beings, the non-muslims will remain deluded by the hatred upon which islam is founded. For so long as those muslims who may disagree with the actions of their fellow muslims remain silent, they shall have no credibility with the non-muslims. To be silent in the face of evil is, itself, evil.

  • Nabukuduriuzhur

    This is Islam. In all it’s barbarity and ugliness.

  • Walter Sieruk

    If that terrible guy has minded his own business and not attempted the crime of rape he would have come to no harm. This guy brought it all on himself. Furthermore to wantto put this women to death for defending herself against a rapist is even worse then a great misrarriage of Justice. It’s outrageous and an absurd affont to all that is good and right. This Islamic court by wanting to put this women to death has exposes their warped and wicked mindset. Furthermore about such a thing as this the Bible teaches in Proverbs 17:15. “Acquitting the guilty and condemming the innocent- the Lord detests them both.” [NIV]

  • SoCalMike

    Where is Naomi Wolfe and other free safe American feminists enjoying the freedom, prosperity and protection not available to this woman and millions more like her in Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa?
    Busy sliming Phyllis Chesler for telling the truth and sharing her first hand experience.

    • Skeptic7

      Cowering and averting their eyes.

  • Michael L

    Why are feminists always silent about this? Raping virgins
    then killing them for being impure, hacking off clitorises
    and enslaving of women. Where are the radical feminists
    who stand up for women’s rights?

    • herb benty

      The radical, “feminist’s Totalitarianism always comes before women’s well being, the union leaders Marxism comes before a worker’s well being etc. I found this out a few years ago. To them, killing Americans in the womb is very important, important enough to lie. Hindering American ingenuity and productivity is very important. Likewise our schools and colleges and universities are infested with commies and marxists that revel in ruining young minds. This is all very deliberate. Getting rid of the Obamites, Democrats and Progressives is only the start, they have infiltrated the USA at all levels. It’s amazing America still functions at all.

  • liberalism is a mental illness

    Okay so where is the leftard to tell us that Islam is a religion of peace?? Obama is doing nothing about this situation as usual. Where is the leftard to tell us that Obama is the best president ever?? Stupid leftards

    • Tim N

      Oh heck I’ll do it.
      Islam is a religion of peace. You just need to be educated about Islam.
      And Obama is the best President since George Washington. Even better, ’cause Washington was a white guy who had slaves.

  • Verity

    I ALWAYS think of QuAIA when I read about the treatment of women and girls in the muslim world, after they have been raped.

  • Hyacinth Alagos

    .I really don’t understand why is this why does people need to do this? Women are deserved to be respected and since we cannot predict what will happen next we must be alert and secure bring safety with you at http://bit.ly/1nctEuL.this is a protection that can be install to your cell phone ten it can re easily routed to the nearest 911 if needed hope this will be a big help. cgv

  • http://www.twitter.com/changeirannow Change Iran Now

    The lot of women in Iran is particularly appalling. The mullahs’ regime there enforces one of the most draconian versions of Islamic religious law. Iran’s laws regulate everything from how women are to dress to the myriad areas of their lives that are to be governed by their husband’s consent. And women in Iran have fallen victim in large numbers to Iran’s liberal use of the death penalty, executed unsparingly for crimes ranging from adultery to drug-related offenses.

    Silence and inaction on human rights abused committed by mullahs ruling Iran is turning ones back on the principles and values that the United Nations was built to safeguard and that the European Union and the United States profess to defend.

  • Jhonnie Walker

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  • deejayaz

    Iran just “won” a seat on the UN Women’s Rights Committee..

    The UN must be dissolved and if not, the US must withdraw and boot them out of our country.

  • Hard Little Machine

    If you want to solve Iran, smuggle in 10 million M-16′s with 2 clips each….just to the women. 30 days, tops, it’s over and out.

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