Sunday, April 20, 2008

More on the Sharia Law of Blood-money!

We have lost Raheleh. We all feel sad and exhausted.

Rahaleh was convicted of murdering her husband, to which she had confessed. However the Islamic courts of the Islamic Republic did not recognise the concept of 'battered wife syndrome' nor accepted her defense of 'insanity'. I leave it for another time to write about why such a principle as 'Battered wife/woman syndrome' is not recognised in the Islamic Republic and how women's rights are infringed, although it is not difficult to guess why!

Raheleh was forced to marry her husband when she was 15. She was subjected to continuous abuse by her brutal husband who had lately put her on medication to cope with the battering. The drug had psychotic side effects, which resulted in her killing her abusive and brutal husband who had brought into the family-house another woman to satisfy his sexual needs. He told Raheleh that she was no longer useful to him as a woman.

Raheleh was hanged despite all the efforts of all the human rights activists. Her originally planned date of execution, which was on 19 December 2007 was only delayed by a couple of weeks to give her more time to find the blood-money to pay the relatives. This is based on the principle of Qesas.

Qesas is the medieval principle that the sharia law of the Islamic Republic legal system applies to cases where the state convicts the accused and passes the sentence and fixes an amount as the blood-money. The victim or their relatives can then decide either to relieve the convict by accepting the full amount; negotiate the amount; pardon without payment; or refuse the blood-money and request the execution of the capital punishment. Therefore, potentially dangerous criminals could be back in the community if they were able to afford to please or even threat or intimidate the victim's relatives without spending any time in prison to regret their criminal misdeeds. How could this make a community safe if the whole purpose of the laws of the community is to bring security to that community as well as carry out justice? In modern societies, the state is responsible for the safety and security of its citizens from the criminals. The legal system, therefore, locks up those who are proved dangerous to the society. How could Qesas fulfill this burden if the convicted man or woman can buy his sentence? If the legal system of the Islamic Republic considers that the victim in any case deserves to be compensated that is a different matter. The victim should be compensated and the criminal should still be punished.

If the Islamic Republic's courts considered that Raheleh did not pose any danger and therefore, could return to the community provided she compensated the victim, then The Islamic Republic has beyond any doubt murdered Raheleh for being unable to afford the blood-money. The Islamic Regime has simply murdered a poor woman whom it considered as no threat to the society. The Islamic Republic's deafening rhetoric since its inception has been to uphold the rights of the poor! The people who are suffering the most under the Islamic Republic are the poor. Over 40% of the population are said to be under the poverty line - the poverty line in the Islamic Republic means not enough food let alone other necessities.

The principle of Qesas becomes even more absurd when the legal procedure is also flawed and the conviction is unsafe. However the case of Raheleh is not about Qesas, although she could had walked free if she could afford to pay the blood-money. Alas she had spent the last few years in the prison and her very poor family didn't have enough money to pay to the husband's relatives. Raheleh's case is about miscarriage of justice. She had perfectly sound defenses but none of them were recognised or accepted by the Islamic courts of the Islamic regime.

We lost Raheleh but we mustn't forget Delara Darabi and Akram Mahdavi, and many others who are still on death row waiting to be executed. Delara was seventeen at the time of the alleged crime which she denies.

1 comment:

Jungle Mom said...

How very sad! This makes my heart ache for these women. What bravery just to face life as a woman under such circumstances.