Atefeh Rajabi : Finally, a Documentary!
A girl (and yes, she was just 16 when she was hanged by the judge and local mullah she angered in Neka, Iran) who has been dear to my heart since I first read about her brutal life AND death, is finally going to be on the airwaves almost 2 years since her execution. Atefeh Rajabi, though listed by several names (for a complete list check her page on Wikipedia), is to be the main subject of a documentary on BBC2 this week.
Execution of a Teenage Girl
Thu 27 Jul, 9:00 pm - 9:50 pm 50mins
On August 15th, 2004 a 16-year-old girl was hanged in a public square in Neka, Iran, a small industrial town by the Caspian Sea. Her death sentence was for crimes against chastity. Her name was Atefah Sahaaleh. The only evidence against Atefah was her own forced confession.
Atefah railed against her judge in court for its unfairness, but this was her undoing. Judge Haji Rezai, who was also the local mullah, prosecutor and head of the city administration, personally obtained permission from Iran's Supreme Court to execute her, and put the noose around her neck himself before she was hoisted on a crane jib arm to her death.
Using undercover footage, eyewitness accounts and drama recontruction, this film tells an unforgettable story of the life and tragic death of an ordinary teenage girl under Iran's mullahs. This programme contains some scenes which some viewers may find upsetting. [S]
For times, see BBC2, and let us all know if you are able to get this station or not. I only get BBC America, and have not checked yet to see it this will make it there between the Benny Hill and AbFab re-runs.
The accounts of this girl's life and death are chilling, and not that unlike many girls born into her situation, the only main difference being a local mullah/judge bent on seeing her executed "for her sharp tongue" and for "crimes inconsistent with chastity". Many report that the judge himself had made advances on this local "bad girl", which she refused. Her mother having died when she was young and her father a drug addict, she was forced to go it alone. An outcast, many mothers considered her a bad influence and kept their daughters away from her, though in interviews state that they regret having done so, and that this poor girl needed someone to help her to guide her. Her friends deny reports that she had mental problems, others insist she did. Some reports state that the "boyfriend" whose punishment was 100 lashes was a boyfriend, others that he was one of two army men forced on Atefeh by some deal with her brothers.
The impassioned speech that she reportedly gave in court, after removing her hijab, blaming the system and loking the judge steady in his eyes, telling the court that the men who forced women into these positions should be punished, not the women themselves, is a rallying cry for women everywhere. And Atefeh spoke these words knowing that they could (and indeed did) lead to her death. Her pleas on the way to the gallows of "repentance, repentance!", acknowledged by many as a stay of execution under the law, were of no avail. As the BBC report states, that is one report about her death that is not disputed. Judge Rezaii put the noose on her neck himself and signalled the crane to life her, leaving her hanging for 45 minutes as "an example.
Look at those defiant eyes. Look at the one that appears to have been punched. Look at that composure, that beauty, that PERSON who no one valued and join me in my prayers for Atefeh. Hopefully this new coverage will bring new light and interest to her case and to the movement against these cases within Iran.
No matter how you cut it, her murder (and yes, let's call this by its right name) shocked many in Iran and has helped spark a movement protesting these barbarous hangings of women, especially the ever increasing target on the younger girls.
Updates as they become available.