The Stoning of Soraya M is a powerful movie based on a best-selling book that leaves the viewer in utter disbelief that something like this true story could actually happen in real life. That supposedly pious men can get away with such barbaric behavior and not be held accountable for bringing about the demise and the death of an innocent woman in a male dominated Islamic country is beyond comprehension.
Soraya has been married for twenty years to her abusive jerk of a husband. Together they have four children, two sons and two daughters. The sons are obviously favored by the father who teaches his sons that it is a man's world and that women are much lesser creatures that should be treated like servants. In Islam men are allowed up to four wives, as long as each wife is treated equally. But since her husband cannot afford to support two wives and he doesn't want to pay her alimony, he decides he just wants to be rid of Soraya, no matter what it takes. Since Soraya refuses to give her husband a divorce so he can marry the 14 year old girl that he fancies, he hatches a plan to falsely accuse her of adultery.
The men of the small dusty remote Iranian village in the desolate mountains of Iran go along with his evil plot to destroy his wife, falsely accusing her of adultery, holding a mock trial, and convicting her based on the word of a man who was threatened with death if he did not cooperate. The story is eerily reminiscent of the Salem witch trials, where the actions of a few provoke maniacal mob mentality into the masses against one of their own. Even Soraya's own father took part in the proceedings and denounced her publicly once she was convicted and sentenced to death by stoning. The movie is graphic and the scenes where Soraya is stoned to death are very difficult to watch. She suffers a horrendous, agonizing death.
It will come as no surprise that the book which tells Soraya's story, written by the French journalist of Iranian descent, Freidoune Sahebjam, was banned in Iran because it portrays the Iranian legal system in such a negative light. The Stoning of Soraya M is an important and extraordinary story that needed to be told.
Thankfully Soraya's story is NOT the norm for Muslim marriages. But what IS the norm about her story is that most Muslim marriages are not an equal partnership, instead deferring the power in the relationship to the man, and consequently, blame for any problems in the marriage on the woman. Men tend to wear the pants in the family in many marriages around the world - I'm not saying that this is unique to Islamic marriages. But it does seem as though in Islamic countries, women are always guilty or wrong, and men are always innocent or right. For example, when a woman is raped in an Islamic country, generally she is believed to have brought it on herself so she will be punished, while the man is often thought to be justified in his actions. Honor killings always target females and are committed by male relatives. Female children are still sold by their own fathers to perverted old men, oftentimes to settle a debt or to give the family a financial boost. Sometimes Shariah law can appear to be unfair, unjust, inhumane, or violent to women or girls.
The Muslim world still seems to have a long way to go in the area of women's rights...
For more information, please read an in-depth post about The Stoning of Soraya at the blog Sand Gets in My Eyes.