An Iranian child bride, forced to marry at the age of 14, is to be hanged in Iran after killing her husband.
Razieh Ebrahimi, 21, who shot dead her husband when she turned 17, is now the subject of an angry international campaign to stop her execution, with Human Rights Watch calling for Iran to end the death penalty for juveniles.
Under Iranian law, the victim's family can pardon Ebrahimi up until the very second before she is hanged, but the husband's family say they want the execution to go ahead. In April the mother of murdered teen Abdollah Hosseinzadeh pardoned the man who killed her son in a street brawl just moments before he was to be hung at a public execution. The Islamic state executes roughly two prisoners every day - most for drug-related offences.
The Mehr news agency quoted Ebrahimi as saying that she married her neighbour's son on the insistence of her father, and was regularly beaten.
"My dad insisted I should marry him because he was educated and was working as a teacher. I was 15 when I gave birth to my child. My husband mistreated me. He used any excuse to insult me, even attacking me physically."
Ebrahimi has admitted that she killed her sleeping husband and buried his body in the garden of their home, before reporting him missing to police. She was arrested after her own father found the body of her dead husband and called the authorities.
Ebrahimi’s lawyer is believed to submitted a retrial request to the Supreme Court on the grounds that she was under 18 at the time of the crime, but the Supreme Court refused this request. Her case has already progressed to Iran’s Office of the Implementation of Sentence, meaning her execution could take place at any moment.
"Every time an Iranian judge issues a death sentence for a child offender like Ebrahimi, he should remember he is in flagrantly violating his legal responsibilities to administer justice fairly and equitably," said the deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division Joe Stork. "Iran's judiciary should reverse its execution order of a battered child bride."
A petition on Amnesty International's website has garnered more than 9,000 signatures to call for a halt to the execution.
Since 2009, Iran has executed at least 11 child offenders, making it the country with the world’s highest number of child executions. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory, prohibits the use of the death penalty against people convicted of crimes committed when they were under 18.
Under the Iranian Civil Code girls can marry at 13 and boys at 15. They can marry younger with the consent of their legal guardians and a competent court. International human rights standards recommend 18 as the minimum age for marriage.