August 22nd, 2004


Remember Atefe Rajabi

On August 15, in Neka, Iran, a 16-year-old girl named Atefe Rajabi was hanged to death for "engaging in acts incompatible with chastity." She was not polite to judge Haji Reza, telling him that the law should "punish the main perpetrators of moral corruption, not the victims." (Given her statement, it's possible she was raped; punishment of the rape victim, rather than the perpetrator, is quite widespread in Islamist nations. No news report I've seen comments on that aspect of the story, although one notes that the male arrested with her was given 100 lashes and released.)

At any rate, Atefe's comments so enraged the judge that "he personally put the rope around the girl’s delicate neck and personally gave the signal to the crane operator, by raising his hand, to begin pulling the rope."

A side note: according to the Iranian student movement, Iran does not execute women who are virgins. You'd think this would be good news for virgins, but it's not; it means the executioners rape them first. I'm reminded of a small, horrific episode in Roman history recounted in the Annals of Tacitus:

It was next decided to punish the remaining children of Sejanus, though the fury of the populace was subsiding, and people generally had been appeased by the previous executions. Accordingly they were carried off to prison, the boy, aware of his impending doom, and the little girl, who was so unconscious that she continually asked what was her offence, and whither she was being dragged, saying that she would do so no more, and a childish chastisement was enough for her correction. Historians of the time tell us that, as there was no precedent for the capital punishment of a virgin, she was violated by the executioner, with the rope on her neck. Then they were strangled and their bodies, mere children as they were, were flung down the Gemoniae.

Atefe was buried after her hanging. That night, thieves dug up her body and robbed it.