COVID-19: latest news and resources on child marriage and COVID-19

“Iran: Former child bride faces execution by hanging” – Women Living Under Muslim Laws calls for action

Women Living Under Laws (WLUML) condemns the sentencing of Farzaneh Moradi, a 26-year-old woman and former child bride accused of murdering her husband, to die by hanging. The full press release was originally published here

The case of Farzaneh Moradi, Iranian child bride 

Farzaneh Moradi was a child bride at the age of 15 when she was forced to marry a paternal relative and became a mother at 16.  At 19, she fell in love with a man named Saeed and a year later was arrested and charged for the murder of her husband. Farzaneh claims she was tricked by Saeed to take responsibility for the murder based on the justification that she shared a child with her husband and therefore her parents-in-law would forgive her and in that manner, she and Saeed would be free to marry.

Farzaneh claims that Saeed was the one who suggested, planned, and committed the crime. Farzaneh recounts that she initially resisted but finally one night he entered their home stabbed her husband while he was asleep. He then cleaned the bloody knife and placed it in her hands, according to this account.

At the time of the arrest she took responsibility for the murder but later on the authorities did not accept her claims of innocence. The family of her late husband will only agree to spare her from execution if Saeed is arrested and tried.  This is a task which may prove impossible given the fact that Saeed is free and there is less than a month to prove Farzaneh’s innocence. Until then, Farzaneh continues to face death by hanging. Her mother pleas for Farzaneh’s life pointing out that her 10-year-old daughter needs her.

The execution was scheduled to take place on Sunday 1st February, but was postponed for a month by the Attorney General Reza Habibi in Isfahan where the case is being tried. The judiciary is said to be making every effort to secure the agreement of the victim’s family to suspend the sentence of Farzaneh by proving it was her lover who committed the murder and not her.

Forced child marriage in Iran

In a report “Stolen Lives, Empty Classrooms: An Overview on Girl Marriages in the Islamic Republic of Iran” published on the occasion of the 2013 International Day of the Girl Child last October, WLUML’s partner Justice for Iran (JFI) wrote that in 2012 alone, at least 1,500 girls below the age of 10 were forced to marry.

During the same year, nearly 30,000 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 faced the same fate. Experts on the subject inside Iran believe that the Islamic Republic officials want to avoid having any attention drawn to marriages involving girls younger than 13; official statistics are not categorized according to age and marriages involving girls below the age of 13 are contingent on a judge’s permission.

For more information on child marriage in Iran, read the full press release here.

WLUML calls for action to Iranian authorities:

WLUML calls on the Islamic Republic of Iran to:

  • Thoroughly review the case of Farzaneh Moradi and, based on humanitarian considerations, withdraw the punishment of execution by hanging.
  • 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 [4].
  • 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.

WLUML also calls upon 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.

WLUML calls 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?

WLUML asks: “Please share this statement widely 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 only have one month to save Farzaneh from being hanged. Our previous experience of campaigning against stoning of women in Iran shows that international public pressure could work on the Iranian authorities.”

Women Living Under Muslim Laws is an international solidarity network that provides information, support and a collective space for women whose lives are shaped, conditioned or governed by laws and customs said to derive from Islam.