Iranian child bride who killed husband faces execution

Human rights groups call for pardon of Razieh Ebrahimi, who says she was forced to marry abusive man

Illustrative photo of an execution in Iran. (AFP/Arash Khamooshi/ISNA)
Illustrative photo of an execution in Iran. (AFP/Arash Khamooshi/ISNA)

An Iranian woman who was forced to marry at 14 and who shot and killed her husband at 17 is facing execution, contrary to international law, human rights groups campaigning on her behalf have said.

Razieh Ebrahimi, who had a child at 15, said her husband had abused her physically and emotionally during their marriage. Upon her arrest she admitted to shooting him with his own gun and burying his body in the garden.

She expressed remorse for the act, telling Iran’s Mehr news agency, “I married our neighbor’s son when I was only 14 because my dad insisted… My dad insisted I should marry him because he was educated and was working as a teacher…My husband mistreated me. He used any excuse to insult me, even attacking me physically.”

“Iran’s judiciary should halt the execution of a woman convicted of murdering her husband when she was 17,” a statement by Human Rights Watch said this week. “International law strictly prohibits the execution of child offenders.”

Ebrahimi is today 21, but was a minor when she committed the crime. Iranian law allows the execution of boys over 15 and girls over 9 for crimes such as murder, adultery and sodomy, Human Rights Watch said, if the judge determines that the child understood the nature and consequences of the crime.

“Every time an Iranian judge issues a death sentence for a child offender like Ebrahimi, he should remember he is flagrantly violating his legal responsibilities to administer justice fairly and equitably,” said Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Iran’s judiciary should reverse its execution order of a child bride who says she was battered.”

HRW says Iran has executed at least 10 child offenders since 2009, despite being a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits the execution of child offenders.

In April the execution of an Iranian man convicted of murder was called off only moments before his hanging was set to take place, after the mother of the killer’s victim requested a pardon.

Balal Abdullah was sentenced to death after he stabbed Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, who was 17 at the time, to death during a street fight in the town of Royan seven years ago. As the noose was tightened around Abdullah’s neck, Hosseinzadeh’s mother approached the convicted killer and announced that she had chosen to forgive him.

Under Iranian law the victim’s family has the right to pardon the killer or accept compensation instead of retribution, but the husband’s family has refused to do so.

Amnesty International has warned the Ebrahimi’s sentence has been sent to the Office of the Implementation of Sentences, meaning that it could be carried out at any time.

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