After receiving a petition with signatures from over 100 Iranian women's rights activists and 4,000 concerned individuals, Iran Ayatollah Shahroudi has acted to stop the execution of Ashraf Kolhari, a mother of four who was sentenced to death by stoning for having sex outside of marriage. Kolhari’s sentence was protested by human rights and women’s rights organizations across the world, objecting to the cruel and unusual punishment to which she was condemned for having an affair. In response to Kolhari’s situation, over 5,300 Feminist Majority Foundation activists sent emails to Ayatollah Shahroudi and the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner to protest Kolhari’s execution and the practice of stoning.
In an open letter, Kolhari’s lawyer Shadi Sadr wrote, “It is a wonderful feeling to see people coming together to save the life of another human being. I should also say that it is a great pleasure for me, as her lawyer, to share my happiness with all of you who were with us and supported the effort to save her.”
Kolhari’s fate, however, is not completely clear yet, and the cruel practice of stoning in Iran is still legal. While the Ayatollah’s announcement is good news for women and human rights in Iran, Sadr adds that feminists and activists must remain vigilant: “I am asking you to please continue your efforts and keep your voices loud until we make sure that [Kolhari] is safe. Furthermore, we must demand a change in the law that makes stoning illegal as a ‘sentence’ for any crime.”