A Former Child Bride is Hanged and Denied Her Last Wish to See Her Daughter

4th March 2014 - Justice for Iran (JFI) and Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) condemn the hanging of Farzaneh Moradi, a 26-year-old woman charged with the murder of her husband. She was hanged this morning in Isfahan, Iran without the knowledge of her lawyer. Her final request to see her young daughter was not granted.

Originally scheduled for 2nd February, Farzaneh’s hanging was delayed for a month upon the agreement of her husband’s family, on the condition that she would prove that it was her lover, Saeed, who committed the murder.   Based on Islamic retribution or qesas laws, her late husband’s family demanded that she be put to death by hanging.  Her only chance of being freed lay in forgiveness from her late husband’s family, conditional on her lover Saeed being arrested, tried and charged.

JFI demanded a fair retrial for Farzaneh because of the unreasonable demand by the family on Farzaneh. Her imprisonment and the 30-day reprieve rendered the task of tracking and bringing Saeed to face the law impossible.  We condemn Farzaneh’s execution as violation of the following Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty approved by the United Nations Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 of 25 May 1984.

1. Capital punishment may be imposed only when the guilt of the person charged is based upon clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts.

2. Capital punishment may only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court after legal process which gives all possible safeguards to ensure a fair trial, at least equal to those contained in article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the right of anyone suspected of or charged with a crime for which capital punishment may be imposed to adequate legal assistance at all stages of the proceedings.

3. Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction, and steps should be taken to ensure that such appeals shall become mandatory.

4. Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon, or commutation of sentence; pardon or commutation of sentence may be granted in all cases of capital punishment.

5. Capital punishment shall not be carried out pending any appeal or other recourse procedure or other proceeding relating to pardon or commutation of the sentence.

Farzaneh Moradi was forced to marry a paternal relative at the age of 15 and gave birth to her first child at 16. Farzaneh fell in love with a man named Saeed at 19 and a year later was charged and arrested for the murder of her husband. At Saeed’s incitement she initially took responsibility for the murder of her husband hoping his parents would forgive her because of her child, and Saeed who had committed the murder would then be in a position to marry her.

When transferred to solitary confinement in preparation for her hanging this week, Farzaneh was denied her sole wish to see her daughter one last time. The parents of the man who married Farzaneh as a child bride and have insisted on Farzaneh’s execution are now in charge of her daughter’s care.  The prospect of  her daughter becoming another child bride is now a possibility.

In a report entitled “Stolen Lives, Empty Classrooms: An Overview on Girl Marriages in the Islamic Republic of Iran” JFI examined the statistics and laws pertaining to forced girl marriages and called for a ban on child marriages. Its second report “Forced Girl Marriages: The Death of One’s Reality“ delved into the effects of this harmful practice on the lives of women and girls; severe physical and  psychological damage on their health and well-being.  It was shown that this damage manifested itself in suicide and in some cases homicide, even at the cost of facing execution - as in the case of Farzaneh Moradi, who may have played a role in her husband’s murder in order to flee forced marriage.

Our calls to the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran

•    For the Islamic Republic judicial and legislative authorities to immediately revise national codes and laws in accordance with international commitments regarding the age of maturity in order to make illegal marriage of girls below the age of 18 under all conditions.

•    For the judicial authorities to introduce national codes and laws to prohibit forced marriage.  

•    Any law pertaining to forced child marriage must prohibit any marriage with an adopted child.

•    To hold accountable any private actors - including guardians - as well as the judges responsible for the approval of forced child marriage cases. 

•    To provide reparation and comprehensive support for victims of girl marriages.

•    To sign the UN Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age For Marriage and Registration of Marriage with no reservation and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

We renew our call on the UN Human Rights Council, the UN treaty bodies and special procedures and the UN’s relevant programs with presence in Iran to raise the seriousness of the problem.  We also call on Global South countries and members of the Non-Aligned Movement to encourage the Islamic Republic to fully cooperate with United Nations mechanisms and procedures, including the Universal Periodic Review recommendations.

What can you do?

Please share this statement widely on the occasion of International Women’s Day on Saturday, March 8th, especially to your contacts in the UN, the Iranian embassies in your countries and your governments (their missions in the UN Human Rights Council), the media and NGOs.

We also encourage all concerned, to contact local and national authorities and members of parliaments to include the issue of forced marriages in negotiations with Islamic Republic authorities.

Iranians and supporters of human rights in Iran are highly encouraged to exercise their right to express an opinion on this issue to:

Leader of the Islamic Republic

Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader

Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid

KeshvarDoust Street,

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Twitter: @khamenei_ir

Email: info_leader@leader.ir

Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah SadeghLarijani

c/o Public Relations Office

Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

(Subject line: FAO Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani)

Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Hassan Rouhani

The Presidency

Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: media@rouhani.ir

Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and

@Rouhani_ir (Persian)