There has been a lot of press recently about the truly medieval practice of stoning as a death penalty, especially because of the international controversy about the stoning (and now, it seems, potential hanging) of Iranian woman Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani for adultery and murder. Stoning is still a common and acceptable punishment in countries outside Iran, as cellphone footage that was recently smuggled out of Pakistan proves.
Last night, the State Department condemned the video, which depicts a group of men “raining stones” on a woman tethered to the ground as she pleads for help. I’m not going to link to the video because it’s triggering and graphic, but it’s easy to find on Youtube. The woman was reportedly executed for being seen with a man.
“It’s difficult to know where and when it was shot,” Gayle Lemmon, deputy director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council of Foreign Relations, told ABC News’ Brian Ross in an interview, “It is consistent with videos that have been coming from Taliban-controlled areas since the ’90s.”
In a statement, the U.S. State Department condemned the attack, which reportedly took place around two months ago, saying, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the brutal stoning of a woman in Orakzai, Pakistan…The vicious attack…is a chilling example of the cowardly disregard violent extremists have for human life.”
Human rights advocates have been increasingly vocal against stoning in the many countries where the punishment is still carried out. In a letter published in the Guardian on September 21 and signed by the representatives of around 40 human rights groups, the signatories asked the United Nations to condemn stoning as a crime against humanity and to boycott the government of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad for their refusal to release Ashtiani.
You can take a stand against stoning in Iran by signing this petition.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.