Frequently Asked Questions about Stoning
- What is stoning?
Stoning, or lapidation, refers to a method of execution in which an organized group throws stones or rocks at the person they wish to execute. Although it takes many different forms, stoning has been used throughout history and in many religious and cultural traditions as a kind of community justice or capital punishment. For instance, the practice has been documented among the ancient Greeks to punish people judged to be prostitutes, adulterers or murderers. It is also documented in the Jewish Tradition via the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, and the Talmud, or Jewish Oral Law. In the Old Testament of the Bible, stoning is prescribed a method of execution for crimes such as murder, blasphemy or apostasy. Although there is no mention of stoning in the Quran, the practice has since grown to be associated with Islam and Muslim culture.
- Shouldn’t we just accept stoning as part of someone’s culture and their right to freedom of belief?
There is no excuse for the killing of women in the name of any ‘religion’, ‘culture’ or ‘tradition’.
‘Religion’ and ‘culture’ cannot and must not be invoked as excuse for the killing of women, because religion and the laws which derive from it are always subjective interpretations. Culture is not static, but constantly re-created and re-defined by the various interests of groups in positions of power in a society at any given time. There is no excuse for the killing of women. Murder is a brutal violation of the most basic human right – the right to life – and any practice which harms women or impinges upon their agency and autonomy contradicts fundamental rights, such as the right to security; the right to freedom from violence; from inhuman, degrading treatment and punishment; from terror; the right to choose a marriage partner; and the right to not face discrimination under the law. As long as impunity exists, the misappropriation of culture and religion will continue to threaten women’s safety.
No ‘culture’ has the right to kill and harm women based on their perceptions of morality or honour. The freedom of belief does not mean freedom to kill. Stoning is a brutal example of how culture and religion are being misused to perpetuate violence against women.