Iranian Child Bride Razieh Ebrahimi Faces Execution For Killing Abusive Husband

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A Iranian girl forced into an abusive marriage at the age of 14 now faces imminent execution for killing her husband while she was still a child, two international human rights groups warned this week.

Razieh Ebrahimi was 17-years-old and had already suffered years of physical and verbal abuse when she shot her husband in the head while he was sleeping, according to Human Rights Watch.

Ebrahimi -- who is also known as Maryam -- was promptly arrested, confessed to the murder, and was sentenced to death in 2010.

The young woman was taken from her cell to be executed several months ago, after having spent some four years on death row. The sentence was reportedly halted at the last minute when she told authorities her age at the time of the crime.

On Thursday, Amnesty International reported that Iran's Supreme Court had refused her request for a retrial, clearing the way for her execution to be carried out at any time.

Tehran set some restrictions on the death penalty for juvenile offenders in 2012, but only outright banned child executions for certain types of crimes, like drug offenses, the New York Times explains.

Iran still holds the horrific world record of the "country with the world’s highest number of child executions," according to Human Rights Watch. Only Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Hamas authorities in Gaza also executed child offenders in the last five years, the group says. International law prohibits executing people who commit crimes when they are under 18.

At the beginning of 2014, the United Nations human rights office said it was troubled by a spike in the number of people reportedly executed in Iran. The U.N. estimates that more than 500 people were executed in the country in 2013.

London-based Iranian lawyer Shadi Sadr told The Guardian that Ebrahimi's case also highlights the tragedy of child marriage in Iran, where law allow girls to marry at 13 and boys at 15.

"While (girls) should go to school at that age, they are instead experiencing a life full of violence with no legal support. They eventually kill themselves or their husbands to end this vicious circle," she told the newspaper.