Early in the dawning hours of October 26, 2014, the final preparations were being made to right a perceived wrongdoing, an act that was the direct result of a prior wrong that had allegedly occurred, depending on who you believed. A 19-year-old girl in Iran, where the laws are not written for her protection nor in her favor, perhaps never feels completely safe in her Iranian homeland. She is a second class citizen at best, little more than property, the system that should have dealt fairly with her plight instead has permitted her execution. Iranian Reyhaneh Jabbari allegedly killed her would-be rapist and sadly died in the defense of her very life, the only thing she had that was truly hers.
Despite the global humanitarian outcry for justice and leniency from the Iranian government, the 26 year old who had been awaiting final judgment for over six years, was put to death by hanging as her grieving mother waited outside the stark prison walls where the locked gates kept her at bay. This sweet-faced Iranian girl child was born powerless into a system that routinely fails its female population. It hides their beauty and their abuse behind veils, while at the same time demanding absolute obedience and subservience to a dysfunctional status quo. Reyhaneh is one of thousands of young girls and women who are abused, raped, slaved and prostituted all around the world. Males are also subjected to these abuses, but in a man’s world, women are far more often victims of all manner of atrocities.
In many parts of the world and in many mid eastern countries, women are treated like they are at fault when they have been sexually assaulted. They are frequently shamed, ridiculed mocked and ostracized by the community and sometimes are put to death for merely being a victim of rape. Often, a vicious rapist will kill the victim in the hopes of forever silencing the knowledge of their heinous deeds. Recently there have been several public floggings of rapists in many villages in India and other parts of Asia. It seems that the villagers are becoming more aggravated with the slow-moving governments and are taking matters into their own hands. For Iranian Reyhaneh Jabbari, even the pleas of Amnesty International were not enough to stop her being killed by a harsh Iranian Regime that has a bloody history of injustice and who condemned her to die for defending her very life.
Upsetting for many was the refusal of the alleged rapist’s family to spare her life. In 2007 the would be attacker, 47-year-old Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a surgeon and ex intelligence agent, is said to have lured the young Reyhaneh into an apartment he claimed to have wanted redecorated. It is there that the young woman must have felt horribly vulnerable and fearful for her life during the alleged rape attempt. Nobody really knows what occurred that fateful day other than those who were present. Because Reyhaneh could not produce four witnesses, nor would she name a supposed accomplice, she was basically murdered outright for a death that was unfortunate but possibly justified.
Few can say with any real certainty what they would do in the face of some unforeseen attack. In those moments, every second counts and a tragic outcome for someone is almost guaranteed. What happened in this case was surely no different. If what Reyhaneh says happened is true, then she was assaulted again and again, first by her assailant, then by her incarceration and the violent, allegedly coerced confession and ultimately by her unjust execution. Those Iranians who made the decision to let Reyhaneh Jabbari be killed, were unable to contemplate what it would feel like to die in defense of their lives. Without that ability, there is little hope for future victims being spared a similar fate.
Opinion By Mai Nowlin