Friday, July 09, 2010

Great Piece on Stoning by Reza Aslan

Without exception, zina must be proven in a court of law either by four clear and unambiguous confessions made in four separate meetings with a qualified judge, or by the attestation of four men of “blameless integrity” who must all profess to be direct eyewitnesses to the crime. (If four men are not available, three men and two women will suffice.) Where one finds four blameless men who happen to have simultaneously witnessed the very private act of sexual intercourse between two people is another matter.
. . .
Nevertheless, despite its illegitimacy as a Quran-mandated punishment and regardless of the many legal impediments embedded in Islamic law to deter its use—especially when the accuser himself can be punished if the accused is found innocent—the practice of stoning adulterers continues in a number of conservative Muslim countries. The vast majority of these stoning cases are undocumented because they occur in the most rural, poorest, and least-educated regions of the countries (though often with the tacit approval of the government).
Consequently, those like Ms. Ashtiani, who have been charged and “tried” by their village elders, are often totally unaware of their rights under Islamic law; indeed, the judges themselves are sometimes ignorant of the complexities of the law and the burden of proof required for conviction. Too often, this ignorance allows the zeal of the community to dictate guilt or innocence, which is why zina laws are so often used as a means of exploiting women (men are rarely convicted of adultery even though the crime, by definition, requires two people to commit). Jealous husbands have used the zina laws to punish their wives, while angry fathers have used the laws to castigate their daughters.
And while global support and outrage seems to have stopped the Iranian government from stoning the mother of two to death this time, there are too many women who can’t garner that sort of attention. Women you will probably never hear about until it is too late.

Full Piece: The Daily Beast

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