Atefeh Rajabi Sahaaleh (Persian: عاطفه رجبی سهاله; – 1988 – August 15, 2004) was a 16-year-old Iranian girl from the town of Neka, Iran who was executed a week after being sentenced to death by Haji Rezai, head of Neka’s court on charges of adultery and “crimes against chastity.”
Atefeh’s mother died in a car accident when she was five. Shortly after, her younger brother is said to have drowned in a river. Her father became a drug addict, and she was forced to care for her octogenarian grandparents. Despite her attending to their needs they are reported to have completely ignored her. She grew up in the town of Neka, Iran and was described as a ‘lively and intelligent girl,’ whom everyone knew, and was often seen wandering free on the streets. She was called “gypsy of Neka” by the locals, as she was not restrained in her behavior.
She was arrested after being raped by a 51 year old man. But according to Islamic Sharia Law, She was convicted for ‘crimes against chastity’, based on her admission, obtained through torture, that she repeatedly had sex with a 51-year-old ex-revolutionary guard turned taxi-driver Ali Darabi, a married man with children. She was raped and tortured for 3 years, a secret from both her family and the authorities. However, while in prison, she finally told her grandmother, saying that afterwards she could only walk on all fours because of the pain. In the court the judge was Haji Rezai. As Atefah realised she was losing her case, she removed her hijab, an act seen as a severe contempt of the court, and argued that Ali Darabi should be punished, not she. She even removed her shoes and hit the judge with them. The judge later sentenced her to death.
According to the BBC, the documents presented to the Supreme Court of Appeal described her as 22 years old, but her birth certificate and death certificate stated that she was 16. The issue of her age was not brought to proper attention before it was too late.
Amnesty International and other organisations claimed that she suffered from psychological illness, both before and at the trial.
She was publicly hanged from a crane in Neka, Iran, on August 15, 2004. The judge in her case, Haji Rezai, allegedly also applied the noose himself.
Amnesty International and other organizations declared her killing to be a crime against humanity and against children of the world.