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Death By Stoning: Using Global Awareness as a Catalyst for Change

Updated on July 27, 2015

43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was spared from her sentence of death by public stoning, primarily due to the international attention this issue has gained in recent weeks.

Ashtiani had originally been accused, tried, and convicted of crimes of adultery, which is still illegal in many parts of the world today. However, her children asserted her innocence, and drew international attention to their mothers situation in hopes that the rest of the world would be more aware of the cruelty and injustice taking place around them.

Ashtiani's Stoning Sentence

When Ashtiani was first convicted in May 2006, she received 99 lashes, but the death sentence was not handed down until some years later, when the case was reopened under the suspicion that she murdered her husband. She was acquitted for the murder charge, but once the case was reopened, judges began to review the adultery charge.

Upon review, the death penalty was handed down based on a condition called judges knowledge, a loophole in the law which allows judges to make a ruling based on their own opinions, even when no conclusive evidence is present. Although she has been pardoned from her sentence of death by stoning, it is unclear whether or not the death sentence will be carried out in another way, according to a July 9, 2010 article in Time magazine.

The Stoning of Soraya M.

Iran was previously under international scrutiny for its growing use of the death penalty; this year alone, the nation has held over 100 executions. The most brutal method of execution by far is public stoning, the punishment to which Ashtiani was sentenced. This gruesome method of execution is performed differently based on the condemns gender; men are buried in the sand up to their waist, usually with their arms free, and if they are able to escape from their partial-burial, they are pardoned from their death sentence.

Women, on the other hand, are buried up to their chest, reportedly to hide the woman's breasts, but making escape near impossible. Stones are then thrown at the condemned prisoner until they expire.

How Do You Believe We Can Eradicate This Barbaric Process?

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Stoning is a 'Slow, Torturous Death'

The true tragedy behind this barbaric practice is the fact that the Islamic religion, which is the principle religion in this region, does not condone stoning as a method of execution, but the method has been carried out despite this knowledge. Even the new supposedly progressive Iranian president, Mohammed Khatami, has allowed stoning to death to continue to be the principle method of execution in the country.

According to an study posted, "The condemned are wrapped head to foot in white shrouds and buried up to their waists...The stones are specifically chosen so they are large enough to cause pain, but not so large as to kill the condemned immediately. They are guaranteed a slow, torturous death. Sometimes their children are forced to watch. Their offense is usually adultery.

Continued Awareness and Change for the Future

It is likely that the only way that Iran, as well as other nations which exercise this method of execution, will awaken to the brutality and in justice of stoning would be if international organizations and governments continue to express their disapproval. If this international pressure was no longer based on a case-by-case basis, but rather focused on the entire concept of execution by stoning, perhaps real changes could be made.

With constant pressure and criticism from the rest of the world, perhaps Iran will feel obligated to not just spare whichever prisoner has the most sympathetic case, but rather to eradicate this practice from their judicial system altogether.


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    • MarieLB profile image


      2 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      I care. So do you KMSplumeau.

    • KMSplumeau profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Wow... Marie that is just a terrifying story. It's literally sickening that this is happening in our world today. Not to sound dated, but I know we need to do something about these atrocities occurring in the modern world, and not just post pictures of ribbons to your favorite social media source, but we need to really do something about this. We can put a robot on Mars, but haven't stop executing people without a trial by throwing rocks at their heads until they die!?!?!?

      Sorry. It's just a crazy world we live in. Thank you so much commenting, and your passion about the subject matter. Maybe if more people were aware and cared the way you do we could put an end to this. Thank you!

    • MarieLB profile image


      2 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      As an addition to your excellent article, you may be interested in -----

      Last night I watched a Four Corners programme [a weekly highly rated report] called "Escape from ISIS". It is a heart warming story of a small band of brave men who are helping those who escape - they are mostly women and children. A few of these men have paid with their life. The others are still risking theirs to save as many as they can. To date they

      have already saved over 1,000.

      The programme outlines how ISIS abduct women and children to use as slave workers, sex slaves, and to sell at market, like others sell cows. What is more, they butcher them for any whim, and even young children end up seeing the beheadings.

      At other times they use the dreaded stoning methods, and we saw an old man - prompted by an ISIS villain - claim that his own daughter had not followed the teachings of the Koran. They did not specify whether she had had sex voluntarily or otherwise, because it seems, that does not come into the equation.

      She was then covered by a black sheet tied around her to the hips, placed in this big hole, and then the stones rained. . . .

      My eyes had no tears, but I felt my heart bleeding . . . . .

      We also saw the effects of this kind of treatment of women and children even if they manage to escape. It is horrendous.

      Is it any wonder that so many risk their lives to leave these kind of places? Nothing can be worse than staying there.

      If anyone wants to delve further --- [ ]

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      2 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      That is another example of inequality of women. I found it very unfair but that's the world we live in. A very good hub, Stella

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 

      3 years ago

      Very interesting hub, but I always think down through history man has always used the laws of God and distorted them, they have always seem to take his judgments and use them in the wrong way , For he knows, see all, even in secret, that is why Jesus said if you do not sin then you can throw the first stone. We all are sinners .

    • KMSplumeau profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Why thank you so much! That really made my day. =) I'm very glad you enjoyed this hub.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Thank you for clarifying that little bit of mystery in regards to 'the way it is done'. I guess it is normal to have some variety of format from one area to another. What a horrid way to exact 'Justice' !! What a travesty of it.

      It is an excellent piece of writing as is your norm.

    • KMSplumeau profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      I agree. I hope that the more people aware of the injustice in the world, the more we can do to try to stop it.

    • KMSplumeau profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      The first image is from a movie, called The Stoning of Soraya M., and I believe the movie had a different take on the event or maybe that particular incident being depicted was different. I'm not familiar with the story of the second image, but from the articles I found and reports from international researchers it does appear that the most common way women are executed in this manner is to be buried with their breasts covered, while men only are buried to their waist. There are several other images I found which do show this, but honestly they were too graphic to even look at for long, and I didn't want to include any horrific images on the article which might serve to shock and horrify but take away from the content I wanted readers to pay more attention to.

    • KMSplumeau profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Oh, yes, I remember that now. I always thought that the woman who was to be stoned was never named in the bible, I did not realize that may have been Mary Magdalene. That's very interesting. That was an excellent story and I agree the perpetrators of this inhumane practice could definitely take a lesson from it.

    • KMSplumeau profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      I agree. It's baffling as to why this has been allowed to continue legally or at least ignored by the government in the modern day.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      This method of slow death sounds like ultimate brutality; and what a hypocritical loophole the judges have been allowed. Thanks for sharing this information--disturbing but if it's happening we need to know about it.

    • MarieLB profile image


      3 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      Yet another article that demands thought and attention, KMS Plumeau. I am so glad you wrote it and that I read it. We truly need to speak out for these people who are treated so badly. Why use the harsh methods of centuries ago, when in many other areas the country has changed? But not in its favor for one of the sexes it seems either!

      Can I ask a question, and this is not to detract from the worth of this excellent article, but I am curious. You said that women are buried up to their chests in sand, but both images show different. Is there a reason for that?

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      3 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      A very disturbing piece, though one we cannot ignore. To think these things happens in this day and time is truly heartbreaking. These old practices are barbaric to say the least. Their government sits on their high horses and pass judgement in the name of the "law" it's just another way to control. The could have changed these practices long ago, but choose not to.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 

      3 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      I can't even stand to think about these things. Mary Magdalene was saved by Jesus reminding the ones that wanted to stone her of all the sins they have committed. He said, "the one who is without sin cast the first stone." Mary Magdalene was never stoned to death.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      A barbaric practice. Hopefully education and UN sanctions can eradicate this nonsense.

      Very eyeopening hub.

    • KMSplumeau profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      I definitely agree. I feel like many people don't even know this is still going on in the world, and we all should try to make everyone more aware in order to stop this. In many first world countries people are still fighting to make the death penalty illegal or use more humane methods at least, and yet in other places around the world, people are still being executed for convictions like 'practicing witchcraft' by civilians throwing rocks from the ground at them until they die.. the contrast is literally stunning.

    • KMSplumeau profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      I don't know that story actually, is there a theory about what happened to her? Was she also stoned to death?

    • KMSplumeau profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Thanks for the feedback. I can't help but agree, what happens if it turns out that the executed party was innocent? From what I've read as well, the so-called "trials" that convict many of these victims is often a kangaroo court of biased parties. It's appalling that, in a time when we're using robots to explore other planets and science is eradicating some of the most fatal diseases in history, there are still civilizations which believe it's acceptable to execute someone based on nothing more than hearsay by using rocks from the ground to bash their heads in. It's disgusting.

    • florypaula profile image


      3 years ago

      I understand that different peoples have different rules but I really don't think this is something that should still happen in the 21st century, in my opinion. What if they are wrong accusing the person, how do you take back their death? And I don't think anyone should die like this, it's torture.

      I wonder what happens with these people when International attention diminish and nobody is watching anymore? Do they still get the sentence with less fuss to don't arise International Press anymore? Just wondering.

      Great hub.

      Have a nice day.

    • maxoxam41 profile image


      3 years ago from USA

      Let's remember its origin... What did happen to Mary Magdalene... ?

    • Buildreps profile image


      3 years ago from Europe

      It's great that you pay attention to this. These people have primitive habits prompted by incredible stupid ayatollahs and prophets! Raising consciousness is the only way.


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