Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism in




August 21, 2004

Public Statement

CONTACT: press@wfafi.org


A 16 year girl hanged in public for having the courage to defend herself in court


Boston, MA - The Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran (WFAFI) has just been informed that a 16 year old girl, Atefeh Sahaleh Rajabi, was hanged in public on August 15, 2004. Atefeh was hanged in her hometown of Neka in northern state of Mazandaran, Iran. She was charged for having an unlawful relationship with a young man. 


Despite her family’s efforts to obtain a lawyer, Atefeh was denied one by the order of the clerical judge.  In her own defense, she told the judge, Haji Rezai, that he should punish the main perpetrators for moral corruptions and not the victims.  Atefeh was condemned to death by both the local clerical judge and Iran’s Supreme Court in Tehran. The young man involved in the act only received 100 lashes and was set free.


After her execution, the local clerical judge said her punishment was not execution but he had her executed for her “sharp tongue”.  Atefeh was given a more severe punishment because of her gender and courage to talk back to the fundamentalist rulers in Iran’s court system.  The charges against her were unfounded and the court had no proof of the young couple’s relationship. 


WFAFI condemns this misogynous act by Iran’s fundamentalist rulers and the clerical judges.  Even though Atefeh was denied a lawyer for her defense and thus had no fair trial, she was punished for defending herself courageously.


WFAFI holds the leaders of Iran’s fundamentalist regime responsible for Atefeh’s murder. Those who commit such crimes against women should be brought in to justice. Violence against women in Iran is institutionalized and Atefeh’s case should not be forgotten. We call upon all women’s rights activists and human rights advocates to support the Iranian women in their struggle to end such atrocities in Iran.






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