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Leyla Mafi was sold into prostitution and a mother by age nine. She had a second child by the time she was 12 years old.
As a teenager, the girl was sentenced to death for the crime of illegal sex. This charge came about after Leyla was raped by her brothers. The brothers were charged with incest and sentenced to flogging. Leyla was charged with incest and later sentenced to death for the crime.
Amnesty International got wind of the case and stepped in to help Mafi. They hired a lawyer for the case and on a retrial, was able to get the death sentence reduced to 99 lashes.
In 2019, six people under the age of 18 were put to death in Iran. In 2020, Iran put two teenagers to death for their crimes.
FYI: Women and children are considered inferior to men in Iran.
Under Article 91 of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code, the death penalty applies to children under age 18 who are convicted of crimes punishable by death. Boys over age 15 and girls over age 9 face potential death in criminal court.
In Iran, more than 80 crimes are punishable by death, including illegal sex.
Iran is one of the only countries in the world that executes children.
Girls are considered a commodity in the country and poor families often sell them off for financial gain.
Fathers have enormous power over their children under Islamic laws. A father who murders his children may spend only a couple of years in prison.
Leyla was forced into prostitution and sold to adult men by her family. By age nine, Leyla was already a mother. She would have another child by age 12. This is about the same time when Leyla’s parents sold her to an Afghan man to become his “temporary wife.”
This man sold Leyla to as many as 15 men per night. Two months after the marriage, police raided the home, arresting all the people inside, including Leyla. Leyla’s husband was sentenced to five-years in prison for providing a house for illegal sex.
While police were investigating the illegal sex house, Leyla’s brothers confessed to raping her. The brothers were flogged; Leyla was accused of incest, a crime punishable by death.
At the age of 14, her mother-in-law forced her back into prostitution. This resulted in the birth of twins. Her family then sold her again, this time to a 55-year-old married man. He, too, forced Leyla back into prostitution.
Human rights activist and journalist Ashieh Amini heard about the case and fought to hire a lawyer for the girl. Amnesty International said that in 2004, Leyla had the mental capacity of an eight-year-old girl, although she was a teenager. The court disagreed and affirmed the death penalty for the girl who was accused of prostitution.
The case gained international attention which worked favorably for Leyla. She was given a second trial. This time she would appear in court with a lawyer there to guide her. The lawyer was able to get Leyla’s sentence reduced from death to 99 lashes in 2005.
Leyla received her punishment and was placed in a care home. She thrived in the care home, where she learned how to read and write and many other life skills. She earned a living working as a seamstress.
Little information about the case is available after 2005.