Iran has ended its practice of imposing the harsh sentence of stoning as a form of capital punishment for women. The head of the judiciary instructed judges to halt implementing the sentence, according to BBC News. Iran’s decision to end the severe sentence could be a result of the international outcry against a recent stoning sentence of a Nigerian woman, Amina Lawal, for having sex out of wedlock. The Nigerian government promised in October to stop the Islamic courts from carrying out sentences of death by stoning.
This decision to stop stoning women adulterers came soon after Cindy Costa, the Senior Advisor of the United States Mission to the United Nations, stated that the number of stonings in Iran were on the rise. According to Radio Free Europe, in May 2001 a woman was stoned to death in Tehran’s Evin prison for acting in pornographic films and having sexual relations outside of marriage.
Since the 1997 election of the President Mohammad Khatami, Iranian women have gained greater freedoms, including the repeal of a ban on unmarried women studying abroad. Iran’s Guardian Council, a hard-line conservative force in Iran, approved a bill in December broadening women’s divorce rightsÑa right that has been severely limited since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The signing of this bill by both the Parliament and the Guardian Council and the decision to end the practice of stoning women adulterers are among several steps being taken to broaden the rights of women in Iran.