Domestic Violence: The Stoning of Soraya Manutchehri
17 Year Old Stoned To Death
In the past month of my convalesence, I have spent much time watching movies, most of which I fall asleep during the middle of. During this time I happened to watch one movie in particular that touched my heart and soul so deeply that I feel it necessary to share. I have now rented it 6 times from pay on demand. I can not seem to let it go or forget the cruelty, brutality, or injustice in the scenes. Never has a movie moved me to this point.
The movie "The Stoning Of Soraya M.", first came to me in a google search on another hubpage. Out of curiosity I searched the pay per view on my cable network. I finally found it listed under "new releases". The first time I watched it I was mesmerized, horrified, and tremendously saddened. Since the first viewing I have watched it 6 times and the impression has been the same. It is a movie that I can't get out of my mind, which says alot since suffering from bipolar disorder, I can forget things easily. For some reason this one stays stuck in my head...like a bad dream, as if it were someone I actually knew instead of a movie.
The story is about an Iranian woman, Soraya Manutchehri, a 35 year old, mother of 4. She had 2 sons and 2 small daughters. Her husband, Ghorban-Ali, wants a divorce to marry a 14 year old child bride and is abusive to Soraya almost daily. When Soraya refused the divorce settlement he offered because it would not feed her small daughters, he would take the male children with him, he accused her of adultery. In a conspiracy with the local clergy and another wittness, her trial and execution last all of one day. She was stoned to death in 1986, in the town square, with her father, husband, and her two sons throwing the first stones. The stoning scene lasts approximately 10 to 15 minutes but will last forever in your mind. This is not just a blood and gore movie. It is the touching story of the unjust punishment of a beautiful, faithful and loving wife and mother, who under Sharia law is stoned to death for a crime she did not commit. She was married 22 years to the man. The story was told to a Paris based, French-Iranian Journalist, Freidoune Sahejam, by the aunt of Soraya, Zahra Kahnum, when his car broke down in the village of Kupayeh, Iran. The book of the same title was released in 1994 and became an international best-seller. Its focus was on the practice of stoning in Iran and the absence of womens rights there. It was recently made into a movie and released internationally.
The scenes of brutality are burned into your brain as you see Soraya expose her chest to her aunt revealing the black and blue cuts and bruises left by the husband, the dinner scene where in a discussion with his sons he calls his wife a bitch and whore and then beats her when she attempts to leave. In another scene the husband beats her in the town square with everyone standing by watching yet not one bothers to intervene. The scene depicting the stoning is the most horriffic, as the stones strike her body with a sickening thud causing her to bend backwards, buried up to her waist, blood pours and splatters with each stone, her blood soaked hair surrounding her bruised and battered face, as she lies dying, her husband bends over and sees that she has a partially opened, blood filled eye and yells "the bitch lives, get more stones". Soraya is repeatedly hit again and again,until she is nothing more than a bloody pulp. Her body is not allowed to be buried and is left at the rivers edge to be eaten by wild dogs. Her aunt retrieves the remains of the bones the next morning. The story as told by her aunt is smuggled out of Iran by the above named journalist. If you get a chance to rent or purchase the movie it is well worth the few dollars it costs. It leaves an impression that is unforgettable. A saddness almost impossible to erase. The journalist states that even though it is denied by officials, the practice of stoning is still used, mostly on women, in many countries, including Saudia Arabia, our ally.
Maybe the reason this movie had such an impression on me is that after having been a battered woman, watching another woman being beaten to death ripped at my heart. One of the things I remember the most is the fact that no one even tried to help her. Here in the United States we would never condone such a practice as stoning. We use for the most, lethal injection to execute our criminals, but Soraya wasn't a criminal, she was a battered wife. She was battered by her husband, then by society who stood silently by and watched as she was beaten to death.
Though in the United States we have laws against domestic violence, it is a continuing problem. Many women are beaten by their husbands, lovers or boyfriends daily. Many of these incidences end in the woman being killed. As a society we frown on this, as neighbors or friends we often look the other way choosing instead not to get involved. How many times have we noticed a friend with sunshades or makeup hiding the bruises and said to ourselves its none of our business. How many times have we heard the screams or crying through our walls but made the choice not to dial 911? Many are that the times I have wittnessed a male slap, kick or hit a female in public and as with Soraya everyone present chose to look the other way. Many of us may soothe our councice by saying the woman should call the police, or leave. But having been a victim I can only tell you that the solution is not that simple and the choice isn't always hers to make. She may choose to stay as did Soraya, due to finances, no job, no money, no friends or family to help. She may also choose to stay out of fear, for herself or her children. Studies have shown time and time again that the most dangerous time a woman faces is when she leaves. That is the point in which the man realizes that he has lost control and the situation becomes increasingly volitale. She may stay in hopes the batterer will change. This is highly unusual since the abuse usually escalates each time. Many times the woman faces the choice of staying and enduring the abuse or leaving everything she has. These can all be difficult choices to make for the victim of abuse. This was the plight of Soraya.
In domestic abuse the woman is not always the only one to suffer. If there are children they are affected by the trauma. Their school work and socialization skills may suffer, they learn to use violence to control or if girls, they learn that its okay to tolerate abuse as a sign of love. In studies performed by leading experts, it has been shown that boys who witness battering often become batterers themselves, creating a cycle that can take generations to break.
Even though it ultimately is the choice of the women to leave and when, we as a society still bear a responsibility for the victims involved. To simply look away is unacceptable, as is the decision not to become involved. To many victims the reaching out you do may be what they are waiting on to make the choice to leave. In most states you can call 911 to report domestic violence and remain anonomyous.
In America we consider the stoning of Soraya barbaric, while at the same time ignore the instances of domestic abuse right here in our own country. Though stoning is a form of torture, so is domestic abuse. It also ends many times tragically. I once saw a billboard that read " He beat her over a hundred times, he only brought her flowers once" it had a white casket covered with red roses. That was over 15 years ago...I have never forgotten it. It took me over 10 years to leave the abusive relationship and many years of counseling afterwards to break the destructive cycle I set out on at age 15. My value as a person suffered, my self-esteem and my children. There were many who looked the other way and pretended not to notice, this made the ability to leave harder since you have the feeling that everyone feels it is in someway your fault or would blame you if you choose to leave.
I hope that if you have the chance, you will watchingch "The Stoning of Soraya M." and that as you watch, you do so with not only your eyes, but with your heart. As you see her heart-wrentching story, think if you know someone who is in such a situation and decide to not do as the on lookers in her story did and turn a blind eye.
If you are the person in an abusive relationship...please make the decision to leave. There is nothing worth your life, or that of your children. Contact the "National Hotline For Domestic Abuse" or another agency in your area. There is help if you have made the decision to leave .
CAVEAT: DO NOT feel you are safe because you have a restraining order. It is a simple piece of paper. Most times you could be injured or killed before the police could respond.
God Bless and stay safe!!