Iran is a signatory to Convention on the Rights of the Child but its laws continue to remain in contraction with CRC. According to the laws of Iran, the penal age for girls is 9 and 15 for boys. A girl who does not even have the right to hold a bank account, suddenly in the eyes of Islamic Judges is treated like an adult at the age of 9. Soghra Najafpour who was sentenced to death at childhood is an example of this injustice:
With long straight hair and frightened green eyes, Soghra is known by the volunteers at Rasht prison as the longest kept prisoner. She who was hired at the age of 9 as a servant in a Doctor’s home, but 4 years later she was accused of murder of the 8 year old son of the family. At the time 13 year old Soghra confessed to murder but soon after she denied any involvement and blamed her older boyfriend for it. Death of an 8 year old boy by a mature man rather than by a small framed, slim 13 year old girl seemed more logical and deserved more investigation but judges had already sentenced her to death and therefore discounted her story claiming that such man never existed and did not believe Soghra who said the reason for her initial silence was because she used to be in love with him.
That 13 year old child is now 30 years old waiting 17 years of her teenage years and twenties to be executed. Already once she was even taken to be executed but appealed last minute.
17 years later, she has lost her teeth, takes strong antidepressant medications, been under surgery a few times and her hand shakes at the age of 30. She talks about her childhood that how her poor parents in return for a sack of rice sent her to serve at the “Doctor’s” home and how at the age of 13 she was sentenced to death for the murder that she did not commit.
Soghra knows Delara Darabi, another prison mate who was sentenced to death at the age of 17. Unlike Soghra who did not have a chance to attend school, Delara has high school education and that is why she helped Soghra with filling out her legal paperwork. After all not only they were the only two children in that prison who were sentenced to death, but they both used to be in love with men who took advantage of their childhood innocence.
These days there is a small flicker of hope for Soghra: According to her attorney and children rights activist, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Soghra obtained a ruling for her release in return for approximately $40,000 bail but without any change in her execution verdict.
But Soghra’s family who live in a small village have no such financial capacity and therefore Soghra continues to live in the only home that she has known since the age of 13: Rasht Prison of the Islamic Republic of Iran.