Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding

Young Women Sentenced to Flogging, Corpse Washing for Illicit Relations with Man Other than Husband

Arya News Service / Translation by ABC
Arya News Service
May 13, 2017
Newspaper article

Arya News Service – A young woman arrested on charges of having “satanic relations”* with a man other than her husband has been sentenced to two years of washing corpses in morgues and 74 lashes at the decision of a judge at Tehran’s Branch Five Criminal Court.

The woman had been taken into custody and questioned on February 26, 2016, following her husband’s complaint alleging that she was engaged in a secret relationship with another man.

Mina, 35 years of age, first rebuffed the charges. She was greatly shocked to learn that her husband had been aware of the relationship in the course of Intelligence Police investigations.

Upon viewing the evidence against her, the woman was forced to confess.

The woman was tried last week at Branch Five Criminal Court in Tehran under the direction of head Judge Babai and court advisor Judge Towliat, and answered the officials’ questions:

“How long have you been married?” “Six years.”

“What’s your husband’s job?” “He works construction.”

“Are you also employed?” “I’m a homemaker.”

“How did you get to know this other man?” “On Telegram...”

“Why did you befriend him?” “Getting to know each other online, I didn’t know at first that I’d become interested in him. Little by little, though, I fell for him because of the problems I had with my husband. He was telling me nice, comforting things I never heard from my husband.”

“Why did you betray your husband behind his back?” “My husband is in poor health and isn’t capable of his matrimonial duties.”

“This is a shameful reason to give. Do you accept that?” “Yes, I accept it.”

“Do you have any children?” “Yes, a five-year-old boy.”

“The police report states you would take your child with you. Weren’t you afraid he’d talk about it?”

“I was so overwhelmed by the relationship I really didn’t know what I was doing. This lasted until my husband finally had his doubts and found the video and photos on my cellphone…”

Following the young woman’s statements, the other man was also tried in closed-door proceedings. The Branch Five Criminal Court judge then issued his decision regarding the two accused parties.

The ruling sentenced the young woman to 74 lashes and two years of serving in a women’s morgue washing corpses. The man faces 99 lashes and forced exile to a distant city.

The sentences will be implemented following confirmation from the Supreme Court.

*ABF Note: The charge of illicit relations entered against the woman in the case are defined by Article 637 of Iran's criminal code: "When a man and a woman who are not married to each other, commit indecent acts other than [sexual intercourse,] such as kissing or sleeping next to one another, they shall be sentenced to up to ninety-nine lashes.". The woman was not tried for adultery proper ("zina,") a crime which can carry the death penalty in Iranian law. 

ABF Note


Findings of guilt in the Islamic Republic of Iran's Judicial Proceedings

The Islamic Republic of Iran's criminal justice system regularly falls short of the standards for due process necessary for impartiality, fairness, and efficacy. Suspects are often held incommunicado and not told of the reason for their detainment. Defendants are frequently prohibited from examining the evidence used against them. Defendants are sometimes prohibited from having their lawyers present in court. Additionally, confessions, made under duress or torture, are commonly admitted as proof of guilt. Because Iran's courts regularly disregard principles essential to the proper administration of justice, findings of guilt may not be evaluated with certainty.

Corporal Punishment: the Legal context in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Islamic Republic's criminal code recognizes corporal punishment for a wide range of offenses: consumption of alcohol, theft, adultery, "flouting" of public morals, and mixing of the sexes in public. Judges have the latitude to mete out corporal punishment for those sentenced to death. In such cases, the flogging is carried out before death to maximize the suffering of defendant. Aside from flogging, the Islamic Republic also employs amputations as a punishment for theft. In such cases, the defendant is taken to a hospital and put under anesthesia as his hand or foot is amputated. In some cases the left foot and right hand are cut off, making it difficult for the condemned to walk, even with the assistance of a cane or crutches.

The Islamic Republic's Systematic Violation of its International Obligations under International Law

The use of corporal punishment is contrary to international law and is addressed in several international agreements. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Iran has ratified, states that, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Identical language is also used in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Iran is also a party to. The strongest expression of international disapproval is contained in the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). This treaty defines torture as, "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as ... punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed." Although the Islamic Republic of Iran has yet to sign the CAT, the prohibition on torture is now considered jus cogens and, therefore, part of customary international law. Furthermore, even though the norm against corporal punishment is not yet a jus cogens, there is increasing evidence that it is illegal under international human rights law.[1] In Osbourne v. Jamaica, the Committee Against Torture (a body of experts responsible for monitoring compliance with the Convention) held that "corporal punishment constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment contrary to Article 7 of the Convention." The Islamic Republic of Iran's systematic violations of its obligations under international law have been addressed by the UN General Assembly multiple times, most recently in December 2007. In Resolution 62/168, the UN expressed deep concern with Iran's continued flouting of international human rights law, particularly, "confirmed instances of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations."