The Rape of Iranian Women on Death Row


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Lauryn Oates/Propagandist

The hypocrisy of Islamic fundamentalists’ patronizing and puritanical worldview is revealed in a plethora of examples, most acutely found in the perverse sexual behaviour of “devout” males who spittle on about sexual morality at the same time that they terrorize women through marital rape, force under-age girls into marriage, engage in prostitution, indulge in pornography, and particpate in a host of other sexual activity that is properly labeled hypocrital and perverse at best, and egregiously violent at worst. But perhaps there is no more cruel and twisted example than the practice in the Islamic Republic of Iran of raping female prisoners prior to their executions. Justice for Iran, an organization dedicating to combatting the systematic sexual abuse of women as a torture method in Iran, has recently released a film about the practice, entitled Final Moments.

While a bit coarse and in need of a good editing polish in the subtitles, the 25-minute documentary nevertheless effectively conveys the gut-wrenching anguish still felt by relatives and friends who were made aware that their loved ones were raped prior to their executions. In some cases, former prisoners are interviewed three decades after the fact, the wounds still visibly raw. Since the Iranian regime officially denies that the practice occurs, the focus of the film is to present proof to the contrary. And for this, the organization should be commended. At the best of times, it’s hard to get evidence out of an environment like Iran’s, but imagine trying to get proof of crimes committed against those immediately executed thereafter. Justice for Iran manages to do so, through painstaking corroboration from eye witnesses. But it’s another form of evidence that best exhibits the obscenity of the ‘justice’ system in Iran: that guards would sometimes take boxes of sweets, or flowers, to the homes of executed girls, informing their parents that the girls had been “married” prior to their executions.

The origins of the practice of raping unmarried women prior to their executions are apparently rooted in a verse in the Quran, that says that virgin girls should not be executed. Per the film, the declaration was supposedly in response to a pre-Islamic habit of burying daughters alive. Later, an Iranian ayatollah declared a fatwa against the execution of unmarried girls, at a time when political prisoners, including many women, were arriving in droves at the gates of Iran’s horror house prisons. Prison authorities, rather than interpreting this as an order to actually stop executing unwed girls or women, decided it meant that they should ‘marry’ and then rape the female prisoners prior to their executions. While these women, courageous dissidents innocent of any real crime, were brutalized before being sent to their graves, the rapist guards could sleep at night secure in the knowledge that they had not violated any sacrosanct edicts.

It’s a logic so crude that there is hardly one that better illustrates the meaninglessness of religion as a moral framework in the context of compulsory faith.

Because religion is not subject to the rules of evidence, there is always room for creative and widely contradictory interpretation — the underlyng buffet nature of religion. Religious rules can be whimsically bent and twisted, and in the hands of the misogynist, they will be twisted to their most perverse form. Thus while the ayatollahs preach a vision of a society where the patronizing theocracy protects the weaker sex, prevents lustful and lewd behaviour, and propagates a superior morality to that of the debased West, it is somehow reconcilable that innocent women are caged, tortured, forecefully “married”, sexually assaulted, murdered and then the evidence of these atrocities paraded before their devastated families. Pardon me if the credibility of the Islamic Republic’s religious authority comes across as absurd. It’s no wonder they rely on brute force, rigged elections, and the systematic use of torture to maintain their power.

One of religion’s few defensible arguments (and a plausible explanation for its spread in chaotic, insecure times) is that it helped civilize tribal societies, imposing a moral and ethical framework over groups of humans who were otherwise content to maim and murder each other. Religion was a way to rally the masses into some kind of order, through the threat of divine punishment, and the promise of divine reward, for those who observed the rules. Depraved humans could be tricked into behaving themselves. It’s a strategy that probably worked well in 7th century Arabia. It’s not working in 21st century Iran.

Watch Final Moments on youtube.

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