Friday, September 01, 2006

Help Nazanin

As any of you who read this, um, EVER, know- I am not real preachy and have resisted promoting any causes via the blog. However, one came to my attention recently that I feel would be reprehensive not to mention.

I recall as a little kid watching beauty pageants and even as a young kid thinking, "wow, these girls bring absolutely zilch to the table, it's a good thing they're real pretty."

As I got older, virtually every comedy sketch I ever saw about beauty pageants mocked the contestants as petty, selfish, brain-dead twits, each of them finishing a vapid speech with a pledge to use their new position of power to promote "World Peace". I'm sure none of us can forget the significance of Anita Bryant's participation during the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

Today, I eat crow: I sat drinking a cappucino (that is so pretentious, I really wish it had just been a coffee, alas, I must tell the truth) and I read the front page of the Epoch Times. Some guy had been cruising the internet looking for Miss Canada 2003 Nazanin Afshin-Jam's homepage and stumbled instead on the story of a young Iranian girl named Nazanin who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Instead of brushing off the coincidence, Afshin-Jam, an Iranian-born Canadian, investigated the situation. No stranger to political persecution herself, Afshin-Jam's father was detained and tortured prior to the family's escape from Iran during revolution. The beauty queen had made a personal crusade out of trying to save this girl. Her efforts secured a World-recognized humanitarian award, but more importantly, because of the public outcry and attention afforded this girl, much of which came directly from Afshin-Jam's efforts, she received a new trial.

The trial took place yesterday and was continued to a later date.

The then 17 year-old girl had been out walking with her fifteen year old niece when three men attempted to assault and rape them. Nazanin stabbed one of the men in the hand, but the attackers didn't give up so easily. The teenager was forced to defend herself and her young cousin, and stabbed one of the men fatally. When the police arrived, she ran to them, surrendering the knife and admitting fully to what she had done.

Unfortunately, Nazanin was immediately convicted and murder and given the maximum sentence- death by hanging in a speedy trial.

Along with a new trial, the girl now has one of the best attorneys in Iran with regard to defending and promoting women's rights. In yesterday's trial, the courageous teen, now 18 years old answered every question asked, then looked the judge directly in the eye and said, "We were yelling, yelling for help, but no one came. I had to protect my honor, what would you do?"

What the judge did not respond and elected to continue the trial to a later date.

I don't pretend to be worldly or grasp worldwide cultures, but one thing that confuses me about this particular culture is the contradiction between the admirable moral code surrounding sexual practices accompanied with a complete disregard for women, castigated even when trying to protect their own chastity, let alone their very lives.

If you would like to know more about this case as it progresses, or sign a petition to the U.N. Secretary General, or donate $$ to this cause, you can find what you're looking for at:


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