For release: July 9, 2010

Australia needs to speak up for women’s rights under Sharia law

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is calling on the Australian Government to join the global campaign to pressure the Iranian Government to save the life of Ms Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani who has been convicted of having an ‘illicit relationship’.

“Although the Iranian Embassy in London has said that Ms Ashtiani will no longer face death by stoning, sentencing someone to death for committing adultery is archaic and inhumane and highlights the poor treatment of women under Sharia Law,” said ACL’s Chief of Staff Lyle Shelton.

Mr Shelton said the Foreign Minister Stephen Smith should call in the Iranian Ambassador Mahmoud Babaei and make plain to him the feelings of the Australian people about the draconian treatment of women under Sharia Law.

The Iranian Government has not yet made clear whether Ms Ashtiani will be spared, or executed by some other means.

“This woman has already had her human rights grossly abused, suffering 99 lashes for her ‘crime’.

“That Ms Ashtiani still faces execution or further punishment reminds the world of Iran’s constant violation of their citizens’ human rights – particularly the human rights of women.

“The Australian Government needs to pressure the Iranian Government to protect the sanctity of life and to protect this woman from such an act of cruelty and ultimately, to have Iran remove stoning and other human rights abuses from its penal code.

“Australia should join the global campaign to uphold this woman’s human rights. Our nation’s silence is disappointing.”