New York, Jan 18: As nine women and two men in Iran wait to be stoned to death, the human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, has called on authorities in Iran to abolish execution by stoning and impose an immediate moratorium on this horrific practice, specifically designed to increase the suffering of the victims.
In a new report published earlier this week, "Iran: Death by stoning, a grotesque and unacceptable penalty," the organization called on the authorities urgently to repeal or amend the country's penal code and to ensure total adherence in the meantime to a moratorium on stoning issued by the Head of the Judiciary in 2002.
We welcome the recent advances toward reforms by Iranian authorities and upcoming discussions on an amended penal code that would suspend at least some stoning sentences," said Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA executive director.
"However, the government must ensure that the new Penal Code does not allow stoning to death or other means of execution for adultery," Cox added.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated development but a matter of equal concern to human rights organisations around the world, women in Iran continue to be looked at as second-class citizens.
They are barred from singing or dancing in public, unable to travel without a permit. Car racing is another no-no for Iranian females.
This, however, has not stopped a woman from finding emancipation behind the wheel.
Zohreh Vatankhah loves to drive around in her 2006 Toyota Corolla. This isn't your ordinary Toyota. It's a dented affair in pink, complete with a roll bar and bucket seats. She snaps on the seat belt, turns the ignition key and the engine roars to life, causing the hood to tremble like the membrane on a bass speaker. Not exactly the kind of car that would pass inspection for driving on the roads in most Western countries. Then she puts the pedal to the metal and her pink car shoots out of the garage, tires screeching.
Vatankhah inserts Christina Aguilera's latest album into the cassette player and drums her fingers to the beat on the steering wheel. She drives toward the bazaar in downtown Tehran, crosses a bridge and passes graffiti instructing passersby to "Destroy Israel" and a poster of a burning American flag.