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Child Bride to Be Executed After Killing Husband

Child Bride to Be Executed After Killing Husband

When Razieh Ebrahimi was 14 years old, she was married off to her 28-year-old neighbor. Although Razieh initially refused, her father insisted and soon she was in the clutches of a man who, according to Razieh, would repeatedly rape and abuse her for years to come.

Pregnant at 15 and trapped into an endless cycle, every day began to feel like torture for her. At the age of 17, unable to handle her humiliation and anger any longer, she picked up a gun, snuck up behind her sleeping husband, and shot him in the head. Later that night, she buried him in their garden.

When the police caught wind of her crime, she was arrested. Fully admitting to her guilt, but blaming it on years of mental and physical abuse, she conceded that she wished she could explain it to her son. Held in the city of Ahvaz for the past four years, she lamented, “I haven’t been able to see him even once, and because of this I am sorry.”

Razieh was sentenced to death for her crimes, and has taken the walk to her execution before. She was only saved when she told the officials she was a minor during the crime. As Human Rights Watch explains: “A source familiar with Ebrahimi’s case told Human Rights Watch that prison authorities attempted earlier to carry out her execution, but when she informed them that she was 17 when she killed her husband they returned her to her cell. The source said that following recent changes to Iran’s penal code the lawyer requested a retrial from the Supreme Court on the basis that she had been under 18 and did not understand the consequences of her actions, but the court refused.”

Revisiting Razieh’s court case made sense, when Article 91 (regarding the executions of minors) was amended by Iranian courts. The head of the judiciary in the country had long urged that executions not be handed down to those under 18, and in some cases Article 91’s laws have been changed to reflect that. However, the wording is vague and only calls for a suspension on the death penalty in cases regarding drugs and ‘discretionary crimes.’

Article 91 still clearly states that children may be sentenced to death if they ‘understood’ the crime they committed. Even more abhorrent are the ages that this code puts in place. Boys as young as 15 years old can be sentenced to death, and for girls the mind-boggling age of nine is the legal minimum.

And even though child executions are illegal under international law, Iran leads the world in executing minors. Since 2009, there have been 10 such executions on the official level, and whispers of far more occurring under the radar.

This case is also compounded by Iranian marriage laws, which states that girls as young as 13 and boys at the age of 15 can be married. Her father didn’t do anything illegal by marrying her off that young, and her husband was well within the legal limits to take her as a wife.

Under the Sharia portion of Iranian law, if the family of her husband had forgiven her, or ‘pardoned’ her, the courts would drop all charges. Iran has seen a number of dramatic pardons in the past, with one mother of the victim waiting until the murderer was in the noose, before slapping him across the face and giving him back his life.

However, in this case it remains unlikely that any last minute pardons from her husband’s family will take place, as they’ve refused to forgive her thus far. Instead, what her lawyer is pleading for is simply a retrial for her life. Reziah, now 21 years old, has been told she’s in imminent danger of execution. And with the government refusing her lawyer’s requests, there isn’t much hope surrounding this case.

Stories such as these are not that uncommon in Iran, due to the prevalence of child brides attempting to break free from the confines of abusive marriages they’ve never consented to. And as long as child marriage laws remain inhumane, it’s likely we’ll see situations similar to Razieh’s again and again.

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128 comments

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6:11PM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

Just think what a beautiful, peaceful and egalitarian place the world would be without fundamentalist zealots and the misogyny they cling to. Until the day these archaic beliefs finally fall. women will continue to suffer.

2:16PM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

Poor girl, this shouldn't have happened to her in the first place...

2:03PM PDT on Jun 30, 2014

where were the police when this girl was raped? where was righteousness and justice when a young girl was forced to marry a man and then beaten and abused so horribly thereafter? ...then, one this girl defends herself, she is instantly arrested. It's baffling.

7:57AM PDT on Jun 30, 2014

poor girl

3:30PM PDT on Jun 29, 2014

The widespread problem of violence against women isn't getting better, it's getting worse. The time is now to educate against this and to stand up against it. Make your voices heard, this is unacceptable, anywhere in the world, at any time.

9:08AM PDT on Jun 29, 2014

Yet another reason the US should never partner with Iran in any way. I guess our President believes otherwise.

There are some people trying to have Sharia law put in place in the US. We must never allow this to happen.

8:29AM PDT on Jun 29, 2014

Stop forcing young girls into marriage!

6:13PM PDT on Jun 28, 2014

This is atrocious! End forced marriage and end all child marriage!

5:46AM PDT on Jun 28, 2014

Forgiveness...have these people not understood the most significant teaching. I fail to understand why a family marries a child to a man, more so why a father allows the husband to then abuse his daughter in such unspeakable ways. Why women who themselves allow this crime of abuse to perpetuate. To the mother of the murdered man I pray that you will forgive this girl child of her actions to allow a PARDON. Do you have a daughter ??? I also pray that you will find forgiveness in your hearts for the abuse your son and many like him have inflicted on children. In many countries around the world they would be imprisoned for their acts of violence and in prison be marked men by other prisoners who detest the act of child sexual abuse and murder.

12:57AM PDT on Jun 28, 2014

While it is cynical and morbid, if more abused women/slaves snuck up and murdered their abusers/owners/pimps/husbands there may well be less abused women and slaves in the world. It is not like she had legal recourse to get a divorce. I really hope she gets off. Nobody should be able to own sex slaves, and that is what "child marriage" is.

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