We now know that according to Iran’s Embassy in London, the Iranian government no longer plans to stone Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the forty-three year old woman who was accused of adultery. Since the time of her arrest under Islamic law in 2006, she was publically flogged and then imprisoned. Stoning for a woman in this situation requires that she is buried up to her chest, and stones are then thrown at her head until she dies a slow and gruesome death. According to the Amnesty International Report, “The stones that will be hurled at her will be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill her immediately.”
CNN link for reference: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/07/05/iran.stoning/index.html?iref=allsearch
Some are encouraged that the culture of the Iranian society is changing, as reflected by the unwavering support that Sakineh has received from the both of her children (most surprising her son, who has been credited for this particular case receiving international support). The fact is, however, that the situation has not changed, and that is sad. Of course, this case is not completely resolved, and within the past few years there have been several others like it.
There is much that we could discuss here. Please allow me to narrow the focus of the discussion a bit. In reading this horror of today’s reality, I am reminded that this is the same culture of the women that we have come to know, love, and cherish in the bible. We claim to love them but do not see their situations clearly, and therefore, cannot understand them completely. The society and culture revealed in the bible does not display a safe place for women. Somehow we read the bible and conjure false images that, Esther married a king and they lived happily ever after; Ruth married Boaz and they lived happily ever after.
That is simply not the case. When Esther said, “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish (Esther 5: 16B),” she meant that literally. In the book of Ruth in the bible, the widowed Naomi was bitter because she had a death sentence. Her husband and two sons (ex. her financial support system) had died, and she was old, therefore, not a prime candidate to marry again. Had God not intervened in her situation, her best hope would have been to live the remainder of her years as a poor beggar.
Tamar could have shared Sakineh’s death sentence. Mary, the mother of Jesus, could have also been sentenced to death for her accusation that she had conceived a child of the Holy Spirit. Thank God that Joseph received a message from the angel and did not accuse her of adultery. The woman caught in adultery in John 8:3-11 was certainly on her way to a stoning, until Jesus intervened and challenged the person who had never sinned to cast the first stone are her. It is not until we see the gravity of these situations, that we understand the true significance of the deliverance that comes with God intervenes and when Jesus steps on the scene.
Sakineh’s case has reminded us to pray for God’s deliverance from the injustice that women suffer all across the world.
Will you share your prayers here?