So I decided to have myself a little movie night last night. I watched two movies I’d seen before, and then I decided that I wanted to watch something different. So off I went to Netflix, and I picked one of the new-ish ones on there that sounded interesting to me. So I ended up watching a movie called “The Stoning of Soraya M.”
Now, this may seem like common sense just by reading the title, but it honestly never crossed my mind that this movie wouldn’t have a happy ending. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention??
In any case, I watched it.
Now, this movie is in no way the best ever made, or the most violent or gory, or the most anything, really. But it really got to me. I didn’t expect to cry through the last 15 minutes. Once I got into it, it was obvious how it would end, and still I prayed and hoped that it could be different.
So the plot is basically this: a French journalist, Freidoune Sahebjam, is stranded in a small town in Iran, and while they fix his car, he listens (and tapes) to a woman who insists she has a story to tell him. Her name is Zahra, and the story is about her niece, Soraya.
Soraya is married to Ali and they have 4 children. Ali wants out, however, so that he can marry a 14-year-old girl whose father is about to be executed at the jail he (Ali) works in. Soraya refuses to give him a divorce (or whatever arrangement he’s suggesting – I understood it as divorce) , as this would leave her to starve. Eventually, she finds a job helping a widow and his son. Her husband, not wanting to wait for her to stand on her own and finally leave him, conspires with the town’s Mullah to have her accused of adultery. They convince the man she’s working for to accuse her.
And so a “trial” is had (behind closed doors) and she’s found guilty. As per their law, she’s buried up to her waist, her h
ands are bound, and stones are thrown. Her father, her husband, even her sons cast their stones at her. Slowly, painfully and bloodied, she dies.
The journalist leaves, but not before they take his notes and ruin his tapes. As he drives off, he stops next to Zahra, who hands him the real tape. He then drives off.
This is actually based on a true story. The journalist did actually have someone tell him this story, and he wrote a book about it, called La Femme Lapidée. It was later translated into English and subsequently released as a movie. I’m not sure how close to the story the movie is, but as I understand it, Soraya really was accused of adultery and stoned to death in a small village in Iran.
I didn’t expect the movie to really show you as she’s stoned to death. I know it’s not real, and honestly in some spots, it’s obviously a doll or something like that. But by then, you’ve watched her get hit and bleed and cry and it’s just painful to watch.
I’m not one to do much besides frown at the idea of someone somewhere else being treated unfairly. But this movie makes me want to go to Iran and fight them all. Or beat them up. Or maybe find an organization that works to stop this. Or do something to change it. To stop it. To make it better.
It isn’t okay. This is NOT okay. I just…I don’t understand. How do people do this to other people – to their moms, to their daughters, to their friends – and think it’s okay?? How do you go home after this, thinking, “We’ve fixed it. We’re honorable now.” HOW??
Wikipedia tells me that Iran no longer has stoning in their legal code. The group Iran-e-azad, however says differently. According to their site:
- The penalty for adultery under Article 83 of the penal code, called the Law of Hodoud is flogging (100 lashes of the whip) for unmarried male and female offenders. Married offenders may be punished by stoning regardless of their gender, but the method laid down for a man involves his burial up to his waist, and for a woman up to her neck (article 102)
- Article 104 of the Law of Hodoud provides that the stones should not be so large that a person dies after being hit with two of them, nor so small as to be defined as pebbles, but must cause severe injury. This makes it clear that the purpose of stoning is to inflict grievous pain on the victim, in a process leading to his or her slow death.
Time Magazine has an article from last July that about a woman whose stoning sentence for adultery was stayed due to incredible international outcry. As far as I can tell, she will still be put to death, but it’ll be due to hanging instead.
I’m just not sure what, if anything, I can do. Write letters for Amnesty International?? Write a blog post about it?? If anyone has any ideas, please, let me know. I’m open to suggestions.