Reyhaneh Jabari (ریحانه جباری )


Some time overnight while I slept, Iran executed (by hanging) Reyhaneh Jabari, a young woman who was convicted of murdering a man she claimed was trying to ‘sexually abuse’ her. (Some other media sources report this as attempted rape, others as rape.).

The conviction was flawed, and there had been a campaign to save her launched on social media, as well as the intervention of Amnesty International.

Despite this, she died earlier today.

It goes to show just how morally bankrupt these patriarchal societies run by dangerous clerics can be when it comes to a woman’s and human rights, although to be fair Iran appears to have sought to commute the sentence if the victim’s family agreed to clemency, which they did not. This does not necessarily mean that Iran can claim any sort of high moral ground on the matter. It puts to death, mainly by hanging, about 60 people each month, almost 600 this year already. Each one probably has its own story, which we rarely get to hear. It’s a sobering list of dead, and the reason for their deaths. ‘Drug trafficking’ appears to be a ‘popular’ reason for convicts being executed, and you need to read several pages of it before coming to one where someone has been executed for rape. I have little doubt that the fact they occasionally hang rapists will have Iranian stoutly defending their execution of Reyhaneh today by saying ‘see, we do treat rapists robustly’. And that’s fair enough; there are probably many Westerners who would accept state execution of rapists too. But we don’t because words like ‘flawed’ do have a tendency to creep into the legal arguments. We simply don’t want to execute anyone on the basis that there may be some doubt in our minds of the certainty of the crime.

The Iranian government have only officially acknowledged about 1/3rd of these executions.

I’m not going to trivialise a story like this by linking it, in any way, to Second Life, save to say that I have SL friends who live or have lived in similar societies where women are regarded as being second class and treated as playthings for backwards looking macho society which has no place in a 21st century world any more than nations have being run by religious zealots. At least one has expressed the view that it is only in Second Life where she feels free of that patriarchal society in which she lives, and the game is an escape valve, a brief, virtual window on how (in some respects) her life could (and should) be. We will, eventually, come to her story in SLN12, the international edition.

Around the globe, women are terrorised each day with threats of sexual abuse & rape, often in Islamic countries. If ‘Islam’ means ‘submission to God’s will’, is it ever God’s will that a woman be treated in this way? How often will the perpetrators of verbal & physical abuse, sexual assault or rape be the pious, at prayer, on Friday?

Our own western media will be filled, daily, with stories of rape, or sexual abuse, paedophile behaviour, so we’ve no reason to feel smug, complacent or imagine we’re further up the foothills of moral superiority to Iran, although we don’t hang victims of sexual abuse or rape.

I’d ask, today, that you simply look at this story, or one in your local media, regarding the manner in which women are treated around the globe, and to see if there’s one tiny action you can perform to eradicate one act of sexual ‘abuse’ from the planet. Yes, I know that we’re hard-wired to see the opposite (and the same) sex as objects of desire, but rather than focus on a woman’s breasts while walking through your town, or sitting on your commuter train, try to focus on her as a person, as human being who is your equal, as someone who will almost invariably have been subjected through her life to ‘benign’ forms of sexism, and act like a man who acts like a gentleman.

Let us keep working to eradicate sexism in our society. Let us begin to educate ourselves, and ‘less enlightened’ regimes that in the 21st century all men and women should be treated as equal, and all women should be able to live without fear of constant verbal and physical abuse being handed out because they’re women. Let us hear no more talk of ‘bitches’ and ‘sluts’ and ‘ho’s’. Let us begin to build a global society where there are no more Reyhaneh Jabaris, where women aren’t forced to act in the face of abuses.





You can have the choice we’ve made for you (2)

Let’s not kid ourselves we’re doing anything wonderful here at SLN. We’re a niche lifestyle blog about a niche online game. Yeah, we’ve regularly featured pixellated nudity but…wow, so what? We’ve featured possibly the first gay kiss in the SL blogosphere but, again, wow, so what? There’s more important stuff going on.

And so we come to a trio of posts which have precisely nothing to do with SL, or SL naturism, but issues that need to be addressed, as those of us who use SL love the freedom it provides for whatever sexuality we have, all reflected within our politics-free virtual globe. And for those of us who are RL naturists, I think we must almost reflexively side with those whose rights are being eroded or denied.

In the ‘real’ world, rapidly becoming the surreal world, personal freedoms are constantly being eroded. I take a keen interest in this, as naturism (the RL variety) is constantly under threat from idiots with an ignorant view of it, and thus I do fight to ensure the hard-earned liberties won by previous generations aren’t removed in a world becoming less free. Of course, the right to be naked in a public location is pretty small beer compared to the travails being suffered by those featured in this mini-series. I urge you to read all three, just to remind yourself that we are all under threat -be it as naturists, as part of the gay community, as part of womanhood, as part of free individuals making free, individual choices threatened by small-minded zealots.



There’s a Facebook page, My Stealthy Freedom, which is dedicated to Iranian women publicly removing their hijab, and posing for photographs. If we separate Iran’s theocracy from its populace, I think there’s an ideological gap. Many Iranians will still recall the days of the Shah -the Peacock Throne– which wasn’t perfect, but probably preferable to the Ayatollahs. In his last days, the Shah removed a multi-party system to reinforce the power of his monarchy, for example, so not a fully democratic system. But Iran probably has some sense -in it general populace- of being quite modern and, in a sense, western-looking in its approach to life. For example…


…the photo above is ‘The Black Cats’, a rock-jazz combo from Tehran (with a hint of ‘mod’ about them, given the scooters on show) in the 1960s. Their cultural touchstones don’t seem far removed from teenagers forming bands elsewhere in the world at the time.

So…there’s a legacy there, a freedom of thought and deed, that runs counter to that of the Ayatollahs. There’s a clear and obvious danger in demonising an entire nation by the actions of a minority. Not all Iranians loathe the west. Indeed, I’d suggest many would welcome a return to a more secular society.

Indeed, that may be a view that permeates across the entire Middle East. When British High Street store Marks and Spencer (M&S) opted to open up to a global market, the Middle East was one of the markets they explored, and opened up in. The view in the UK is that M&S is the store that effectively puts the knickers on British women, and there’s something to that. M&S lingerie can probably be found in almost every underwear drawer in the UK. And when moving to the Middle East, their first store in the Lebanon (probably not quite as puritanical a nation as other Middle Eastern countries) was dedicated solely to ‘lingerie and beauty’.

And I do recall reading, with some surprise, that their supply of lingerie couldn’t be maintained when they opened their first store (in the UAE, possibly) such was the hunger for women there -many of whom would maybe be wearing a full Islamic burqa- to buy! So there’s the odd juxtaposition, perhaps, of hijabi-wearing women clad, under their veils, in racy lingerie.


The concept of the ‘sexy burqa’ is something of an internet meme, but often published simply for the purpose of offending others, which is shameful.


Real? Or simply made up for the purposes of demonising someone else’s belief system?

Lingerie store Liaison Dangereuse even managed to cause a stir with this advert which marries the burqa to sexuality. At the time it was seen as ‘provocative’. It was, but in two ways. One, yes, it could be seen as offensive. Two, it could be an accurate reflection that despite the burqa (and who is to say that those who wear it are forced to do so or choose to do so? I think we can accept that there are times where either apply) women can and do maintain beauty and sexuality, a trait that exists whether or not the Imams like it or not. I see the advert less as ‘provocative’ as ‘thought-provoking’.

And that brings us back to this latest internet campaign wherein women lose their hijab in a bid for ‘stealthy freedom’. Now…I don’t do Facebook, so I’m not in a position to judge their page,  but you can see some of the photos here. Or look for it on Facebook if you have an account. As is usual, Fox News misses the point entirely, with remarks about ‘beatings’ and (obviously) picking up on phrases about ‘Iran’s enemies’. This just in: whatever the rhetoric from Iran, remember it’s just rhetoric. Please try and separate the theocracy from the general population!

What is remarkable is that the women undertaking this act of defiance are uniformly gorgeous! And, returning to idiotic Fox remarks, where are these beatings coming from? I’m guessing that, back under the hijab or burqa, the morality police won’t have any idea if that’s x, y or z from Facebook, thus making the idea of being subjected to a beating unlikely (not impossible if ratted out by someone else, but certainly unlikely).


Stealthy Freedoms Facebook Page

Anyway, it seems the ‘choice’ for Iranian women (in public) has been the choice to wear a hijab in public, another example of a patriarchal society imposing its will on others. The freedom to choose is off the agenda.