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Activists worldwide call for ban on stoning

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 1st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The incident is horrific - but still occurs daily. A Pakistani mother of two was stoned to death by family and friends. A long, painful ordeal, her body was buried not far from her village. Her only crime was she owned a mobile phone. Activists across the world are now calling on the United Nation to denounce this monstrous practice.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - At least 15 countries or regions continue the practice. Stoning victims are typically women accused of adultery living in isolated, rural areas. Activists fear this form of execution may actually be on the rise, particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Using Twitter and other social media, activists are putting pressure on U.N. 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," Naureen Shameem of international rights group Women Living Under Muslim Laws says. "It is one of the most brutal forms of violence perpetrated against women in order to control and punish their sexuality and basic freedoms."

Activists want the United Nations to adopt a resolution on stoning, similar to the one passed last year on eradicating female genital mutilation. Like stoning, this barbaric practice is often justified on religious and cultural grounds.

Stoning is not legal in most Muslim countries. There is no mention of it in the Koran. Supporters argue that it is legitimized by the Hadith, the acts and sayings of the Prophet Mohammad.

Stoning is set out as a specific punishment for adultery under several interpretations of sharia or Islamic law. Even a woman saying she has been raped can be considered an admission to the crime of "zina" - or sex outside marriage.

In one horrific incident, a 13-year-old Somali girl was buried up to her neck and stoned by 50 men in front of 1000 people at a stadium in Kismayu in 2008.

Her father told Amnesty International she had been raped by three men but was accused of adultery when she tried to report the rape to the al Shabaab militia in control of the city.

Of all nations, Iran has the world's highest rate of execution by stoning. At least 11 people are in prison under sentence of stoning, according to Iranian human rights lawyer Shadi Sadr.

"Pressure from outside Iran always helps. The Islamic Republic always pretends that they don't care about their reputation, but the fact is they do care a lot," Sadr says.

Stoning is also a legal punishment for adultery in Mauritania, a third of Nigeria's 36 states, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

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Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)