|Atefeh Rajabi Sahaaleh
عاطفه رجبی سهاله
|Died||August 15, 2004 (aged 16)
|Criminal penalty||Death by hanging|
|Conviction(s)||adultery and "crimes against chastity"|
Atefeh Rajabi Sahaaleh (Persian: عاطفه رجبی سهاله; – 1988 – August 15, 2004) was a 16-year-old Iranian girl from the town of Neka, Iran who was executed a week after being sentenced to death by Haji Rezai, head of Neka's court on charges of adultery and "crimes against chastity."
After the execution of Atefeh, Iranian media reported that Judge Rezai and several militia members, including Captain Zabihi and Captain Molai, were arrested by the Intelligence Ministry. The execution is controversial because as a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran promised not to execute anyone under the age of 18. Atefah's father had passed her birth certificate to the civil authorities, lawyers involved, journalists and Judge Rezai. Pursuant to continual complaints filed by Atefeh's family, and heavy international pressure about her execution and the way the judge mishandled the case, the Supreme Court of Iran issued an order to free Atefeh.
Atefeh's mother died in a car accident when she was five. Shortly after, her younger brother is said to have drowned in a river. Her father became a drug addict, and she was forced to care for her octogenarian grandparents. Despite her attending to their needs they are reported to have completely ignored her. She grew up in the town of Neka, Iran and was described as a 'lively and intelligent girl,' whom everyone knew, and was often seen wandering free on the streets. She was called "gypsy of Neka" by the locals, as she was not restrained in her behavior.
She was convicted for ‘crimes against chastity’, based on her admission, obtained through torture, that she repeatedly had sex with a 51-year-old ex-revolutionary guard turned taxi-driver Ali Darabi, a married man with children. She kept the relationship, which lasted over three years, a secret from both her family and the authorities. However, while in prison, she finally told her grandmother, saying that afterwards she could only walk on all fours because of the pain. In the court the judge was Haji Rezai. As Atefah realised she was losing her case, she removed her hijab, an act seen as a severe contempt of the court, and argued that Ali Darabi should be punished, not she. She even removed her shoes and hit the judge with them. The judge later sentenced her to death.
According to the BBC, the documents presented to the Supreme Court of Appeal described her as 22 years old, but her birth certificate and death certificate stated that she was 16. The issue of her age was not brought to proper attention before it was too late.
Amnesty International and other organisations claimed that she suffered from psychological illness, both before and at the trial.
BBC Undercover – "Execution of a Teenage Girl"
The case of Atefeh Sahaaleh is the subject of a BBC documentary made by Wild Pictures. Director, Monica Garnsey and Associate Producer, Arash Sahami went undercover to document the case. It is also the subject of an hour-long Discovery Times program called "Execution in Iran."
- Human rights in Iran
- Delara Darabi
- Nazanin Fatehi
- Reza Alinejad
- Mosleh Zamani
- Stop Child Executions Campaign
- "Programmes | Execution of a teenage girl". BBC News. July 27, 2006. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
- "(3of6) A 16 Year Old Iranian Girl Executed by Islamic Police". YouTube. August 14, 2006. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
- Garnsey, Monica (July 28, 2006). "Death of a teenager". The Guardian (London).
- "(4of6) A 16 Year Old Iranian Girl Executed by Islamic Police". YouTube. August 14, 2006. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
- Iran: Amnesty International outraged at reported execution of 16 year-old girl[dead link]
- "Execution of a Teenage Girl". BBC News. 27 June 2006. Archived from the original on August 22, 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-27.