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.