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A Report by Safe World for Women. October 2011.


Iran reportedly executes more people per capita than any other country. In the first 16 days of 2011, Iran had already hanged 47 prisoners - an average of about one person every eight hours.

Over the last 12 months, a total of at least 480 people have been hanged in Iran, including 46 public executions. 12 women are said to have  been executed.

To date, three juveniles have been executed in Iran in 2011; most recently 17-year-old Alireza Molla-Soltani in September 2011.



Adultery, Lesbianism or Heresy can mean a death sentence

Adultery is considered a capital offence in certain cases and the typical sentence is death by stoning.

Amnesty International reports that at least 15 women remain at risk of death by stoning.

Lesbianism (Mosaheqeh) is punishable by flogging for the first three 'offences'. However, if committed four times, the result is the death sentence.

Moharebeh (Mohareb, Muharebeh) is also a capital offence. It can be variously interpreted as 'heresy', 'working to undermine the Islamic system', or 'cooperating with foreign agents'.

This charge can be used to target women's rights campaigners, political dissidents, GLBT, ethnic and religous minorities and can be interpreted as 'cooperating with foreign agents or entities' of 'working to undermine the Islamic system'.

It is not possible to obtain exact figures regarding the number of women executed, but there have been several notorious cases over the last few years, each involving an outstanding lack of judicial or administrative due process.



100 juveniles on death row

The Islamic Penal Code states that girls are criminally responsible from age nine (age fifteen for boys).

According to Amnesty International, in the last eight years Iran has executed at least 43 juveniles (under the age of 18 when the offence was committed).

The recent report, by the newly-appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, states that there are currenlty 100 juveniles on death row in Iran.

Execution of juveniles is prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which Iran has signed and ratified.



Barbaric methods

The most common form of execution in Iran is by hanging from a large, mobile construction crane.

The execution is often carried out in public.

Iran's method of execution by stoning has probably drawn the most worldwide publicity and the most controversy.

Iranian law stipulates that women are to be buried in the ground up to breast level and 'the stones must not be large enough to kill quickly.'



Iranian Judicial System and Women

Serious failings in the Iranian judicial system commonly result in unfair trials.

Moreover, Iranian law is inherently biased against women.

Evidence given by a woman in court is held to be worth half of that given by a man.

There are no female judges.

The Islamic Penal Code allows the judge to rule based on their personal knowledge or intuition of the defendant’s guilt. 

If the presiding judge has 'first-hand knowledge' that the defendant is guilty, no additional evidence is required to find the defendant guilty of the charge. 

"Women faced continuing discrimination in law and practice; those campaigning for women’s rights were targeted for state repression..."

Amnesty International Annual Report 2011



Calls for Action

Safe World for Women calls upon the international community to put pressure on the Iranian regime to abide by international laws and covenants.

Report compiled and written by Joanne Michele, Iran Correspondent for Safe World

Other Contributors: Julie Deaton-Thomas, Mehran Divanbaigyzand, Daniela Kantorova, Mana Mostatabi

Download Summary: Iran Execution of Women and Children (pdf)


Part 1: Crimes Punishable by The Death Penalty