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Domestic Violence: The Stoning of Soraya Manutchehri

Photos Of A Stoning


The Movie

In the past month of my convalesence, I have spent much time watching movies, most of which I fall asleep during the middle of. During this time I happened to watch one movie in particular that touched my heart and soul so deeply that I feel it necessary to share. I have now rented it 6 times from pay on demand. I can not seem to let it go or forget the cruelty, brutality, or injustice in the scenes. Never has a movie moved me to this point.

The movie "The Stoning Of Soraya M.", first came to me in a google search on another hubpage. Out of curiosity I searched the pay per view on my cable network. I finally found it listed under "new releases". The first time I watched it I was mesmerized, horrified, and tremendously saddened. Since the first viewing I have watched it 6 times and the impression has been the same. It is a movie that I can't get out of my mind, which says alot since suffering from bipolar disorder, I can forget things easily. For some reason this one stays stuck in my a bad dream, as if it were someone I actually knew instead of a movie.

The story is about an Iranian woman, Soraya Manutchehri, a 35 year old, mother of 4. She had 2 sons and 2 small daughters. Her husband, Ghorban-Ali, wants a divorce to marry a 14 year old child bride and is abusive to Soraya almost daily. When Soraya refused the divorce settlement he offered because it would not feed her small daughters, he would take the male children with him, he accused her of adultery. In a conspiracy with the local clergy and another wittness, her trial and execution last all of one day. She was stoned to death in 1986, in the town square, with her father, husband, and her two sons throwing the first stones. The stoning scene lasts approximately 10 to 15 minutes but will last forever in your mind. This is not just a blood and gore movie. It is the touching story of the unjust punishment of a beautiful, faithful and loving wife and mother, who under Sharia law is stoned to death for a crime she did not commit. She was married 22 years to the man. The story was told to a Paris based, French-Iranian Journalist, Freidoune Sahejam, by the aunt of Soraya, Zahra Kahnum, when his car broke down in the village of Kupayeh, Iran. The book of the same title was released in 1994 and became an international best-seller. Its focus was on the practice of stoning in Iran and the absence of womens rights there. It was recently made into a movie and released internationally.

The scenes of brutality are burned into your brain as you see Soraya expose her chest to her aunt revealing the black and blue cuts and bruises left by the husband, the dinner scene where in a discussion with his sons he calls his wife a bitch and whore and then beats her when she attempts to leave. In another scene the husband beats her in the town square with everyone standing by watching yet not one bothers to intervene. The scene depicting the stoning is the most horriffic, as the stones strike her body with a sickening thud causing her to bend backwards, buried up to her waist, blood pours and splatters with each stone, her blood soaked hair surrounding her bruised and battered face, as she lies dying, her husband bends over and sees that she has a partially opened, blood filled eye and yells "the bitch lives, get more stones". Soraya is repeatedly hit again and again,until she is nothing more than a bloody pulp. Her body is not allowed to be buried and is left at the rivers edge to be eaten by wild dogs. Her aunt retrieves the remains of the bones the next morning. The story as told by her aunt is smuggled out of Iran by the above named journalist. If you get a chance to rent or purchase the movie it is well worth the few dollars it costs. It leaves an impression that is unforgettable. A saddness almost impossible to erase. The journalist states that even though it is denied by officials, the practice of stoning is still used, mostly on women, in many countries, including Saudia Arabia, our ally.

Maybe the reason this movie had such an impression on me is that after having been a battered woman, watching another woman being beaten to death ripped at my heart. One of the things I remember the most is the fact that no one even tried to help her. Here in the United States we would never condone such a practice as stoning. We use for the most, lethal injection to execute our criminals, but Soraya wasn't a criminal, she was a battered wife. She was battered by her husband, then by society who stood silently by and watched as she was beaten to death.

Though in the United States we have laws against domestic violence, it is a continuing problem. Many women are beaten by their husbands, lovers or boyfriends daily. Many of these incidences end in the woman being killed. As a society we frown on this, as neighbors or friends we often look the other way choosing instead not to get involved. How many times have we noticed a friend with sunshades or makeup hiding the bruises and said to ourselves its none of our business. How many times have we heard the screams or crying through our walls but made the choice not to dial 911? Many are that the times I have wittnessed a male slap, kick or hit a female in public and as with Soraya everyone present chose to look the other way. Many of us may soothe our councice by saying the woman should call the police, or leave. But having been a victim I can only tell you that the solution is not that simple and the choice isn't always hers to make. She may choose to stay as did Soraya, due to finances, no job, no money, no friends or family to help. She may also choose to stay out of fear, for herself or her children. Studies have shown time and time again that the most dangerous time a woman faces is when she leaves. That is the point in which the man realizes that he has lost control and the situation becomes increasingly volitale. She may stay in hopes the batterer will change. This is highly unusual since the abuse usually escalates each time. Many times the woman faces the choice of staying and enduring the abuse or leaving everything she has. These can all be difficult choices to make for the victim of abuse. This was the plight of Soraya.

In domestic abuse the woman is not always the only one to suffer. If there are children they are affected by the trauma. Their school work and socialization skills  may suffer, they learn to use violence to control or if girls, they learn that its okay to tolerate abuse as a sign of love. In studies performed by leading experts, it has been shown that boys who witness battering often become batterers themselves, creating a cycle that can take generations to break.

Even though it ultimately is the choice of the women to leave and when, we as a society still bear a responsibility for the victims involved. To simply look away is unacceptable, as is the decision not to become involved. To many victims the reaching out you do may be what they are waiting on to make the choice to leave. In most states you can call 911 to report domestic violence and remain anonomyous.

In America we consider the stoning of Soraya barbaric, while at the same time ignore the instances of domestic abuse right here in our own country. Though stoning is a form of torture, so is domestic abuse. It also ends many times tragically. I once saw a billboard that read " He beat her over a hundred times, he only brought her flowers once" it had a white casket covered with red roses. That was over 15 years ago...I have never forgotten it. It took me over 10 years to leave the abusive relationship and many years of counseling afterwards to break the destructive cycle I set out on at age 15. My value as a person suffered, my self-esteem and my children. There were many who looked the other way and pretended not to notice, this made the ability to leave harder since you have the feeling that everyone feels it is in someway your fault or would blame you if you choose to leave.

I hope that if you have the chance, you will watchingch "The Stoning of Soraya M." and that as you watch, you do so with not only your eyes, but with your heart. As you see her heart-wrentching story, think if you know someone who is in such a situation and decide to not do as the on lookers in her story did and turn a blind eye.

If you are the person in an abusive relationship...please make the decision to leave. There is nothing worth your life, or that of your children. Contact the "National Hotline For Domestic Abuse" or another agency in your area. There is help if you have made the decision to leave .

CAVEAT: DO NOT feel you are safe because you have a restraining order. It is a simple piece of paper. Most times you could be injured or killed before the police could respond.

God Bless and stay safe!!


vina on April 22, 2012:

I watched this movie last night and I couldn't even watch or year the stoning scene. My boyfriend watched for me. My heart was too heavy. Very emotional situation but a greatly told story

Taslima Viljoen on August 19, 2011:

I saw this movie last night, how sad that an entire village could gang up and commit this horrible murder. What's really sad is that it was condoned by religious men who used the Holy Quran to justify their actions. What scared me more was how young these girls are when they are forced into these marriages with such old men. And the way the old men leered at very young girls made me sick. They all a much of peadophiles if you ask me, living in a country with a vile President. Women have cover themselves decently yet the men including the mullas are disgusting sex pests if you ask me.

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I've been looking for information about whether their was any justice for Soraya and I can't find any. How sad.

Thank you for Christal for keeping her memory alive.

Mrs. J. B. from Southern California on May 22, 2011:

I hate what they do to women in the middle east. A friend of mine from a country over there told me it happens more than we know. I think it is sadistic. I knew all the husband had to do was accuse the wife of adultery. Freaks me out! I would have been stoned already because I have an American mouth... You can google stoning in the middle east and you will never forget what you see. Even men can be stoned. Fascinating hub that really touches the core of your soul.

christalluna1124 (author) from Dallas Texas on February 20, 2011:


I am touched by your comment. I am so very sorry that you have had to endure the things that you have. i am also a survivor of domestic abuse and rape. You, as I seem to be a very strong person and i am glad that you had the courage to get out of the abuse. As for the rape....our criminal justice system is full of injustices. as a former correctional officer I know this first hand. We are supposedly the freest country in the world but you are right in saying that money oils the system. My molester was my father and since at the age of 10 i could not explain what had happened to me and my sister in perfect terminology they did nothing to him. To this day he denies it yet swears to be a christian. My consolation after many years of theray and broken relationships is that he will face final justice before God. To help other women in your community look up your local domestic violence/rape crisis center. if you don't have money...donate time, clothes the women who go there can use to look for a job in. As you may well know most of us who leave do so with only the clothes on our back. God bless and keep you my friend, please email me if you wish.

Blessings always,


Sarah on February 20, 2011:

I have just watched this movie and then found this site after googling Sorayas name. I cried my eyes out from the moment they said they would stone her within the hour (in the film)and now 2 hours later still have tears running down my face. Her poor children especially her girls and the husband never got to marry the chid bride anyway! Would love to know what became of the children and husband. What a sick religion!

Alicia on February 15, 2011:

I also found this site through searching for Soraya. It's not this dialogue that has moved me, but a restlessness. I watched the movie and didn't shed a tear. Not because I wan't moved, but because I didn't want to miss one emotion, one blink of the eye. One sneer of her husband. Then I paced. As a survivor of domestic abuse and rape (separate crimes), my heart bleeds for the plight of women around the world who don't have a voice. Who can't file a police report and get help, whether it be through law enforcement, therapy, or medications (to help cope, sometimes numb in the early stages). I was lucky. I got out of the domestic abuse early on (and he was subsequently deported), but I was a bit less *lucky* with my rape, it turned into a "he said/she said" and our system is oiled by money, of which he has, and I have none.

I am deeply saddened. Sad that I live in a country of excess where I don't know where to go to help Soraya. Sad that I have sat by, idle for so long, lamenting my own problems for so long, when women are dying for so much less everywhere.

Chris, if you're still on here and reading this, please direct those of us who can, whether with time or money, please show us where to help.

The movie left me with HELP. I want to help she doesn't have to die anymore.


christalluna1124 (author) from Dallas Texas on February 11, 2011:

Kimmie,Sad and Truth,

thank you so much for reading my hub. i guess by now i must have watched this movie 25 times and each time with the same reaction...shame, outrage, terror and all the other feelings that having been a victim of domestic violence relives. i still have nightmares and wake up crying. violence against women is a serious that affects evryone of us even if we don't want to see it. believe me walking away isn't that easy and especially if you have nowhere to go and you must leave everything you have in this world behind. its not easy to start over especially if you are my age.

Warmest regards,


Kimmie Kingsley from Petaluma, California on February 04, 2011:

What a poiganant, yet beautifully told story. Brought my husband & myself to tears. I am ashamed sometimes for the weakness of the human race. To think we consider ourselves civialized! I hope commenting on this film will help to make people more aware of the horrific things that are being done to women (we are the biggest minority) world wide.

so sad on February 04, 2011:

i just watched this movie tonight, had never heard of the novel or story beforehand. I'm in pain from the sadness and grief i feel for the women who are perpetrated against in this manner, I was crying my eyes out, just too hard to comprehend why and what type of human does this to another. Like the author of this hub, i've been a victim of domestic violence, which always stays with you no matter how hard you try to move on in the world, my nightmare ended, but how do we stop the nightmare for so many women who aren't allowed their voice. I can't sleep from watching this movie, googled Saraya's name and found this post, which helps me knowing so many others reacted the same. God bless people, because the way we're going its not good

Thetruth on January 05, 2011:


I watched this movie and really was deeply troubled. I have read many books and studied the lives of women in other countries and even traveled around the world to work with victims of sex trafficking.... It is terrible what is happening but the bottom line is - there are forms of this abuse everywhere. what NotSharia said in the comment above was a little weird- Honor killings are not worse than what happened in this movie- the stoning was not an easier sentence to bare.. we cannot dismiss what people go through whether it be in the US (domestic abuse), india (forced prostitution) or pretty much everywhere- the lack of respect for women--- all these situations carry extremely difficult crosses to carry, and none of us can say what is worse or better unless we are in their shoes.

Also yes it is true the men twist the truth and disrespect their own religions by saying God is ordering these deaths... but that is the root of all evil in general because God is not the author of these devastating situations, it is our own flesh that causes so much turmoil and their own selfish reasons why those men plotted to kill her.

NotSharia- she didn't say that Muslims are child molesters... so I hope you really understand what her blog post was really about..

I suggest anyone who wants to know more start off by reading A thousand Splendid Sons and Sold.

christalluna1124 (author) from Dallas Texas on November 12, 2010:

Hi to everyone who read this hub and a million thank you's.

The movie was shocking to me and like many of you I was moved to tears and having been a victim of domestic violence myself it also gave me nightmares. i do realize this is not protocol for all muslims. I have many friends who practice the religion and they were also saddened and shocked. But I do believe it should teach us the barbarity of domestic abuse and torture, in other countries and here in our own homeland. We should never just look the other way. To be silent in the face of injustice is to be a conspirator.

warmest regards and God bless,


angelique on November 08, 2010:

I just finished watching this movie on Netflix. It is an excellent movie, very touching and ver sad. The way they killed her, the way those men lied on her, it was just terrible. But it was an excellent movie. I recommend everybody see this movie! Excellent.

Julie on October 14, 2010:

I just watched this movie a few days ago (through Netflix) and, I can't take the image of Soraya being stoned and bleeding, out of my head...At some point in my life, I suffered psychologic abuse, from an ex boyfriend, and in a way I remembered everything I went through with him. But this is beyond that, this is way beyond that...I cried my eyes off, and now I have a lot of mixed emotions, sadness, rage, I feel furious for the fact that her husband got away with it...How can your own father and children, turn against you?...I guess that's the way the are raised, but still, it's not an excuse. It's terrible that somenthing like the stonings, are still being practiced....I will never forget Soraya Manutchehri....

carolinda fear on September 22, 2010:

one day i was looking on netflix wach instantly and came across a movie:"the stoning of soraya M." when i got to the end of the movie i couldn't believe what i saw.i had was so only 14 years old... this was barbaric

NotSharia on September 01, 2010:

Sorry but what you said and what is currently on wikipedia about this movie is misleading. As you can see the corrupt officials lied and it even points it out several times in the movie. What they said that she had to prove her innocence was also wrong and they bribed people to be witnesses. AkA not sharia law. As people think, they made it up themselves and the husband just wanted Soraya out because he did not want to wait to pay her fees.

Being Indian, you can also go to some villages in Indian nearby the city who do much worse killings such as stoning also amongst very small villages just like this in Hindu communities -> Honor killings.

The girl he was going to marry was 14 years old -> teenager. In a way I guess you could consider her a child, but the way you pointed out made like only Iranians... or even Muslims in general are child molesters or something.

And no one helped because if you were in such a situation like that, what were you to do? The men were too egotistic and did not listen to the poor women which were mostly old, and the aunt tried to stand up for her but she was dragged away to the back of the crowd constantly. All bodies must be buried also, and the way they rejected the burial was also wrong.

Also, this area seems to only want to diminish women's rights and voices because they are first of all, secluded so no one can really do anything, and if they were the following Islamic laws to the extreme, I DOUBT women like Soraya can just walk around with no headscarf half the time, and men aren't even allowed to touch women which was nearly all you see in the entire movie.

christalluna1124 (author) from Dallas Texas on May 13, 2010:


Thanks so much for your comment. It made my mind reel that anyone could be treated this way. I am finishing my degree in law and forensics and one my main projects is the abolition of the death penalty. I hope you get the cahnce to see the movie. It really is heart breaking. I have rented it 7 times already.

warmest regards,


pmccray on April 12, 2010:

You're description is enough for me. With the day to day inhumane acts that mankind rain on one another it's enough to send my senses into overload. We can only pray that the victims are born again into a different world than the one that treated them so horrendously. Thanks for the magnificent hub.

christalluna1124 (author) from Dallas Texas on April 09, 2010:


thanks for visiting my hub. I saw this movie while I was sick and on bed rest. it touched my heart and wouldn't leave my mind until I wrote a hub on domestic violence here at home. I feel it hypocritical to condemn others and look the other way when it is convient to us. This story was so heart breaking it still leaves me in tears.

Warmest regards and God bless


thevoice from carthage ill on April 09, 2010:

terrific touching heat breaking truth God beauty stoned its sick all are God birth right on earth thanks

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