The Stoning of Du’a Khalil Aswad

You cannot love me, she said. You must not.
Why not? he asked. In God’s eyes, we are the same.
She turned away, sobbing.

67 pebbles,
60 grams each pebble,
4.02 kilograms of pebbles

Rained on her return to Bashika. Waited for her.
Shouted, Du'a, Du'a! At one elder's home she thought
She'd found refuge. A mistake.

53 stones,
110 grams each stone,
5.83 kilograms of stones

Pummelled her. Dragged her out, screaming, into the street.
Proclaimed her sin: self-pollution with an unbeliever.
Struck the first blows.

28 bricks,
360 grams each brick,
10.08 kilograms of brick

Muffled the sound of her wails. Spit, taunted her.
Continued to pelt her, each strike revenging
A measure of her family’s disgrace.

17 rocks,
730 grams each rock,
12.41 kilograms of rocks

Welted her in bruises, purple like raspberries breaking
Her skin, streaking blood and dirt and helplessness across
Her face, her legs, her arms.

One 15 kilogram

Smashed her skull and spine. Not enough, her crime too great.
Lashed her, already dead, to a car’s bumper. Dragged her
Through the streets. Buried her with a dog.

47.34 kilograms,
32 minutes
of hate

Exhumed her. Autopsy, days later, at Mosul's medical center,
Underlined an inconvenient truth: honor's killing had cast
A virgin sacrifice.


  1. and it still happens, perhaps with the right suspicious but always the wrong reasons...the woman alone carries the shame, and what shame is it to love and be loved? what shame is it to feel?from behind the veil on men s vision, she has to remain pure and untouched...the honor of the family maintained with a thin line of blood...
    But she flies, Du'a...she flies with many others and sings for more, to hush their fears...
    Thank u for this poem...from a part of the world where such things happen

  2. A very unique way to split the stanzas...It lets the reader focus on the assault. Very emotional!

  3. Anonymous4:33:00 AM

    Sam; This poem, if we can call it that, sat with me for a day and night because, the image to me, summates history. A few words paint a landscape seldom viewed. Remarkable are our sensitivities when given a voice :) Bravo again, dare I say encore :)


  4. Short link -

  5. Mr. Peralta... you definitely did it on this one.

  6. I like to think you made this whole story up, but I know you didn't.

    Nice you can give voice to those who can't speak.

  7. Anonymous9:00:00 PM

    Hi Samuel, pinkyandrexa here from twitter... this is a very powerful poem that raises awareness of how women are treated in some parts of the world. It's shocking that this kind of thing still goes on in this century. Thanks for sharing this

  8. Thank you, Sam , for speaking about so many. One women represents all. I called the Iranian Embassy today to speak out about stoning and the specifically the proposed execution of Sakineh. She is one woman - she represents us all.

  9. Damn, Sam... you nailed it here, with every word.

  10. Powerful and bitterly ironic. That this still occurs in the 21st century is abysmal.

  11. The sun is shining hard here in Malaysia!!! LOVE IT. =)


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