Tuesday, December 14, 2004
A 19-year old girl, “Leyla M”, who has a mental age of eight, reportedly faces imminent execution for “morality-related” offences after being forced into prostitution by her mother as a child. According to a Tehran newspaper report of 28 November, she was sentenced to death by a court in the central Iranian city of Arak and the sentence has now been passed to the Supreme Court for confirmation.
Leyla M was reportedly sentenced to death on charges of “acts contrary to chastity” by controlling a brothel, having intercourse with blood relatives and giving birth to an illegitimate child. She is to be flogged before she is executed. She had apparently “confessed” to the charges. Earlier reports stated that there would be an appeal, and the 28 November report indicates that this process is now at an end.
Social workers have reportedly tested her mental capacities repeatedly and each time have found Leyla to have a mental age of eight. However, she has apparently never been examined by the court-appointed doctors, and was sentenced to death solely on the basis of her explicit confessions, without consideration of her background or mental health.
Leyla was forced into prostitution by her mother when she was eight years old, according to the 28 November report, and was raped repeatedly thereafter. She gave birth to her first child when she was nine, and was sentenced to 100 lashes for prostitution at around the same time. At the age of 12, her family sold her to an Afghan man to become his “temporary wife”. His mother became her new pimp, “selling her body without her consent”.
At the age of 14 she became pregnant again, and received a further 100 lashes, after which she was moved to a maternity ward to give birth to twins. After this “temporary marriage”, her family sold her again, to a 55-year-old man, married with two children, who had Leyla’s customers come to his house.
The newspaper report makes no mention of her family or the men to whom she was married. In Iranian law, in a case of “intercourse with a blood relative” both parties are considered culpable, but only Leyla M has been referred to in the reports of which Amnesty International is aware.
So this justice system believes that a person who has been sexually abused since she was a small girl, who is mentally challenged, to the point where she cannot make adult level decisions, and has known very little but people using her body is guilty of sins against chastity.
When was she ever given a chance to be a chaste woman?
What about her mother, who pimped her as a youngling? Does not justice cry out for punishing a woman who would do this to her daughter?
What sort of judges believe that people like her can be truly guilty when forced by those around her to do these things?
What about the husbands who bought her to use?
What sort of justice is this?