Thursday, October 13, 2016

Woman convicted as juvenile faces death in Iran

Woman convicted as juvenile faces death in Iran

Zeinab Sekaanvand may be heading to the gallows as you read this story.

Story highlights

  • Zeinab Sekaanvand was a teen bride who says her husband beat her
  • When she was 17, she was arrested and charged in her husband's death
(CNN)Zeinab Sekaanvand is 22 years old. She has lost her unborn child. She has lost her family, who disowned her. She has lost her freedom to prison. And she is soon expected to lose the last thing she has left: her life.
The story of how a poor Iranian Kurdish teenager and child bride became a prisoner on death row is coming to light as human rights organizations fight to save her life. Activists must battle the clock if they are to stop her execution, which is scheduled for any time after October 13.
    She may even be heading to the gallows as you read this story.
    But how did she get here?

    Unfair trial

    Sekaanvand's husband was killed when she was 17. She was accused of stabbing him to death and sentenced to die.
    But human rights groups say Sekaanvand's imminent execution is the result of an unfair trial and that she shouldn't face execution because she was a minor at the time of the killing.
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    At 15 years old, Sekaanvand ran away from home, a small village in northern Iran, for love and opportunity. She married Hossein Sarmadi, a man four years older than she, believing he would give her a better life. Instead, Sarmadi made everything worse for his teenage wife, regularly beating and swearing at her, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
    Sekaanvand tried to protect herself and asked him several times for a divorce, which he refused to grant her. She went to the police and filed complaints, but human rights groups say police failed to even investigate the allegations.
    "Because she came from a very poor and conservative family, Zeinab was using her marriage as a way to escape from her reality," says Mansoureh Mills, the Iran campaigner at Amnesty International. "I can only imagine how extremely difficult her life must have been. That is why this case is extremely shocking and disturbing, She was relying on adults to protect her and unfortunately no adults were able to do that. Not the authorities and not her family."

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