Monday, June 30, 2008

The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women!

The Global Campaign to Stop Stoning and Killing Women is initiated by a group of activists, lawyers, journalists, and academics, who are committed to ending the stoning and killing of women. Stoning to death is a legal form of punishment for sexual intercourse outside marriage by persons who are married, as zina (which covers sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage), is a crime in Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria (in about one-third of 36 states), Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates. Recent cases of stoning by state authorities have mostly occurred in Iran, where stoning is not limited to adultery. Elsewhere, such as in Pakistan the state has not carried out stoning, but communities have been encouraged by laws permitting such punishments and
have killed women by stoning. In Nigeria, no stoning has officially been carried out, because local women`s and human rights groups worked successfully together to support and defend those convicted of adultery, with the result that they were all acquitted in the sharia state courts of appeal. In the UAE, sentences to death by stoning have been overturned after strong international protest.

Women constitute nearly all those condemned to death by stoning. Why? Because discriminatory laws and customs almost always assign more guilt to women than to men in any manner of action that is seen as violating ‘norms’ of sexual behaviour, especially any instance of alleged sexual relations outside marriage (zina). Men are entitled to marry more than one woman and can use this justification for sex outside marriage. They are also more mobile and can more easily escape punishment.

In many other countries, women may also be killed by their own family and community, should they be accused of contravening sexual mores, including accusations of committing zina. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions, so-called ‘honour killings’ (or rather, dishonourable killings of women) have occurred in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda and the United Kingdom. The increasing trend to control women’s bodies is also evident in countries where women are not stoned or killed, but are whipped for the same alleged ‘crime’ of zina – for example, in parts of Indonesia. The Global Campaign to Stop Stoning and Killing Women urges the United Nations to investigate these serious infringements of International Human Rights Law and the international community to send a clear message that it is unacceptable for women to be tortured and killed.

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