Female executions in the later 20th century

Analysis by country:

An Afghan woman and her stepson were stoned to death for incest in the rebel held southern Afghan town of Kandahar on the 11th of July 1996. On the 16th of November 1999, a woman identified only as Zarmeena, was publicly shot by a single executioner with a Kalashnikov rifle in a football stadium for beating her husband to death with a hammer as he slept. She is thought to be the only woman to be executed for murder by the Taliban regime. Since the overthrow of the Taliban, there have been no reported female executions in Afghanistan.

America (USA).
America has always shown a marked reluctance to execute women. The last female execution, pre 1977, was that of Elizabeth Ann Duncan by lethal gas on August the 8th, 1962 in California. Forty five women were put to death in America during the 20th century. Click here for details of their cases.
Women commit around 15% of all murders in America but represent about 1.5% of the overall death row population. All female death sentences and executions are for first degree murder.
On the 2nd of November 1984, Margie Velma Barfield became the first woman to die by lethal injection, when she was executed at Raleigh Central Prison in North Carolina for the murders of four people including her own mother.
No woman was executed from then until 1998, when 38 year old Karla Faye Tucker was put to death by lethal injection in Texas, amid huge international publicity on the 3rd of February. She was executed for the brutal murder of two people with a pickaxe in 1983. During her years on death row she had become a born again Christian.
54 year old Judias Buenoano was electrocuted in Florida on the 30th of March the same year. Buenoano was dubbed the "Black Widow" and had been convicted of killing her son, poisoning her husband and trying to blow up her boyfriend.
The execution of Karla Faye Tucker was the first of a woman in Texas since Chipita Rodriguez was hanged in 1863 and the electrocution of Judias Buenoano was the first female execution in Florida since 1848. There were no female executions in America during 1999.

Botswana hanged two tribeswomen, Mmalekoto Kegodile and Seloko Mmamalebe, on the 24th of April 1971 for child murder, the first female executions there since independence in 1966.

Russiaís rebel Chechnya region staged its first public execution on the 3rd of September 1997, putting to death by firing squad a young man and his wife found guilty of murder by an Islamic court. Hundreds of people gathered on Friendship Square in the center of Grozny to urge on the masked executioners as they stood the couple up against a wall and shot them at point blank range with Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Although China executes more people per year than the rest of the world put together, only a tiny proportion of these are women. Up to 2002, all executions were carried out in private (but outside prisons) immediately after confirmation of sentence by a single bullet fired into the back of the head or into the heart. Lethal injection is now being increasingly used, although in a lot of cases the method of execution is not reported as it is a state secret. Only a small proportion of executions are reported in the Chinese media so it is probable that other women have been executed.
Four women were shot in 1996, all for murder. A further execution took place in 1997 when Han Yuji, former president of the Jilin province Yuquan Industrial and Trade Co, was shot for organising a huge fraud.
Yan Guangfen was shot in Chongqing on May 28th, 1998 for kidnapping 12 boys. Four women were shot in December 1998, two each for murder and drug offences, including 18 year old Tang Linjiao and 21 year old Xiong Wenna.
Two female executions were reported during 1999, those of Ma Yulan on the 2nd of March for brothel keeping and Zhou Mingrong, who was shot for masterminding a fraudulent savings scheme on the 25th of August 1999. Death sentences for "economic crimes" were quite common in China.

Two unnamed women were executed by firing squad for murder in the Congo on the 15th of May 1999.

On the 11th of January 1987 30 year old Samiha Abdel-Hamid became the first woman to be executed in Egypt in 40 years. She hated her husband and strangled him in his sleep and dismembered his body.She was hanged in Cairoís Bab-el-Chalk Prison on Sunday, January 11th and is reported to have struggled with her guards at the gallows, cursed all men and spat at the officials.
Zeinab Mohamed Ahmed was hanged for murder on September the 18th, 1991. Manal Abd al-Qabel was executed in Tanta on May the 8th, 1999, also for murder. A British style noose and measured drop are used and executions are carried out in private.

Iran executed a large number of women both by shooting and hanging after the overthrow of the Shah but since 1983, reported female executions have been quite rare and are generally for murder or drug offences.Execution is normally by hanging without a drop and can be in private or public. In recent years, the hydraulic jibs of breakdown trucks have been used for public executions of both sexes.For a detailed analysis of the situation in Iran click here.

It is clear that a substantial number of female executions were carried out by Saddam Husseinís regime up to 2003, but no details are available of the names and crimes of these women.  There was a female death row in Baghdadís Abu Ghraib prison where it is thought that most executions were carried out by hanging, although shooting and beheading were also used for women.It has been reported that condemned women were allowed a party on the eve of their hanging.

Japan has only hanged one women in recent years. She was Nobuko Hidaka, 51, who was executed with her husband, Yasumasa, 54, at a detention centre in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo on the 2nd of August 1997. They were convicted of killing six of their employees in a 1984 dormitory fire they set to obtain an insurance payout.  Executions in Japan are quite rare (typically 2Ė4 a year total), and all are for murder carried out by measured drop hanging in private in various detention centres around the country.

For a small country, Jordan had a surprising number of female executions in the 1990ís. There were a total of 103 civilian executions there between 1994 and 2004, of which nine were of women (8.75% of total). Executions are carried out by hanging in Swaqa Prison, about 45 miles (75 km) south of Amman (the capital). Jordanian hangings are carried out in private but female ones are always heavily attended by officials. It is unclear whether a measured drop is given to prisoners. Four women have been put to death for murder in the 1990ís.
Amira Saleem, a 31 year old Syrian woman and her neighbour, Eidah Hussein (35), were hanged together on the 25th of June 1997 for the murder of Saleem's husband, Murad Youssef, also a Syrian, in March 1996. According to court testimony, Saleem wanted her husband killed because he mistreated and beat her. She got Hussein, her friend and neighbour, to shoot Youssef, and the two women sliced the body into eight pieces and dumped it in a drain.
On the 28th of August 1997, Raya Musa, aged 35, was executed for killing her husband with rat poison after he refused her request for a divorce.
Egyptian sisters, 19 year old Rasha and 24 year old Abeer Ibrahim, were hanged on the 3rd of December 1998 for the robbery/murder of Abeer's elderly employer.

Two women have been hanged in Kuwait since independence from Britain in 1961, up to 1999. They were Alice Norban Barissi and Farida Taher Sheeh (both Indian) who were hanged for murder on the 11th of September 1988. The executions were carried out in private within Central Prison by British style hanging.

On Friday the 8th of November 1982 Lim Beng Nooi, 52, became the first woman to be hanged under Malaysia's strict anti-drug laws and indeed the first female to be executed there.She was arrested with 974 grams of heroin.
Tan Mer was executed on the 3rd of July 1987 for drug trafficking.

Thye Siew Hong and her husband Lim Re Song his wife, both 40, were hanged in Pudu prison on the 20th of February 1983 for possessing nine hand-grenades, an offence under the Internal Security Act.

Thirty three year old Hau Tsui Ling, along with seven men, including her boyfriend, were executed on the 29th of May1990. She and her boyfriend were hanged together at their request, in Kajang prison. They were arrested in 1982 at Penang airport after being found in possession of 28 lbs. of heroin and were convicted in 1985.
Tan Bee Lee was hanged for drug offences on the 29th of July 1994.A British style noose and measured drop are used and executions are carried out in private.

Virginie Mukankusi, a school inspector in Kigali, was executed by firing squad with three men outside Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, for genocide on the 24th of April 1998.

Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has executed women by both public beheading and shooting within prisons which are allowed under Saudi law, although the latter seems to be mainly used in Asir province.The handcuffed prisoner has a circle drawn on their back over the heart and is shot by a single executioner firing two or three bullets from behind, probably with an automatic pistol.

Yenida Rena Linda, from the Philippines, was executed by shooting on the 10th of March 1989 in Riyadh for murder
Nasir bin 'Ali al-Mari was beheaded for murder on the 5th of January 1990.
Yemeni, Aishah bint Jaber bin Ahmed bin 'Issa was beheaded for murder in Riyadh on the 18th of September 1992.
Noura bint Ubeid bin Aqla Al-Zuebi and Aisha bint Muhammed bin Daydan bin Aqla Al-Zuebi (mother and daughter) were beheaded on the 11th of December 1992 for murdering Noura's husband. 
Pakistani born, Rani bint Khamisullah Bashak was beheaded for murder on the 15th of January 1993.
Egyptian, Salwa bint Mohamed bin 'Ali was beheaded in Dhahran for murder on the 29th of January 1993.
Jumu'a bint 'Abdelkhaleq bin Mifreh al-Ghamdi was beheaded in Baha on the 12th of February 1993 for murder.
Filipino maid, Eleanor Akola was executed on the 7th of May 1993, also for murder. 
Indonesian born Konti Vidarati Tonotini was beheaded for murder in Mecca on the 7th of October 1994.
Saudi born, Fatima bint 'Abdullah was executed on the 27th of March 1995 for drug offences.
Saudi murderess, Mubarak bin Masoud al-Masoud was beheaded on the 27th of June 1995.
Laila bint 'Abdulmajid bin 'Abdulhamid and Husein bin Ahmed al-Nass were executed on the 11th of August 1995, both for murder.
Nigerian, Rabi bint Mohamed bin Hamid was put to death on the 25th of August 1995 for drug offences.
Pakistani, Dal Feroza Dilawer suffered for the same crime on the 25th of September 1995.
Zaferah bint Saeed bin Mohamed al-Saleem shot her husband, Saeed ibn Hamad al-Suleim, three times with his own rifle while he was asleep. She was executed on the 18th of August 1996 in Najran, 600 miles (950 km) south of Riyadh.
On the 26th of November 1996, Pakistanis, Bakhtawar Ghazi Khan and Sabati Khatoun Maghrabi were executed in Jeddah for drug offences.
Nigerian, Zahra Isa Ali was beheaded on the 30th of June 1997, also in Jeddah for drug offences.
Nigerian, Bana Mohamed Adam was executed there on the 19th of September 1997 for drug offences.
On the 30th of October 1997, 30 year old Sulikah Anam Kafiran, from East Java, was beheaded in Mecca for the murder, with an axe, of her elderly female employer. There were no reported female executions in 1998.
Nigerian born, Hawa Awu Farouk was beheaded in Jeddah on the 28th of May 1999 for drug offences.
Fellow Nigerian, Aisha Saadeh Kassem was beheaded on the 16th of July 1999 in Jeddah, also for drug smuggling.
On the 3rd of September 1999, Nigerian, Safira Onnabi Salami suffered for the same offence.
Carlito Soriya, a Filipino, was beheaded on the 8th of October 1999 for stabbing a Saudi to death following a dispute.


Sierra Leone.
Major Kula Samba was shot for treason in Sierra Leone on the 20th of October 1998, the only reported female execution for this offence.

Singapore seemed to practice strict sex equality with the death penalty and hanged eleven women in the late 80ís and 90's. Six were executed for drug trafficking under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1973/75 which made drug trafficking a capital offence and five were hanged for murder. All Singaporean executions are carried out before dawn on Fridays in Changi prison and no details are released. Prisoners are often executed in groups (of up to seven at a time) with men and women being hanged together using the long drop method. Bodies are returned to the relatives for burial. Executions are now rarely reported unless the criminal is not Singaporean. The first woman executed in Singapore was 34 year old Mimi Sim who was hanged on the 27th of July 1973 with her husband for the murder of a Japanese woman in 1970.
Hanged for drug trafficking were:
Hong Kong born, Cheuk Mei-mei, aged 29, who was executed on the 3rd of March 1994, became the first woman to die for drug trafficking. She was followed to the gallows by Hong Kongese born, Elke Tsang Kai Mong on the 16th of December 1994.
Twenty five year old Angel Mou Pui- Peng, who was from the Portuguese province of Macau, was executed on the 6th of January 1995 having been allowed a one week stay to celebrate Christmas as she was a Christian.
Tong Ching-man (24) and Poon Yuen-chung (22) who were both from Hong Kong and were only 18 at the time of their crime, were hanged on the 21st of April 1995.
Thai national, Navarat Maykha (32), was executed on the 28th of September 1996.

Five women were hanged for murder up to 1999:
Catherine Tan Mui Choo (age 34) and Hoe Kah Hong (age 33) were hanged alongside
Adrian Lim on the 25th of November 1988 for the Toa Payoh ritual murders of two children in 1981. Tan was Limís wife, and Hoe his girlfriend.
Flor Contemplacion aged 42, a Filipina maid, was executed amidst strong protests from the Philippines government on 17th of March 1995. She was convicted of the double murder of another Filipina maid, Delia Maga, and the three year old Singaporean son of her employer on May 4th, 1991.
Teo Kim Hong, a 36 year old prostitute, was hanged on the 6th of September 1996 for stabbing another prostitute to death and Gerardine Andrew, also 36, was executed on the 26th of February 1999 for her part in the murder of her landlady.

South Africa.
The last female execution took place on the 2nd of June 1989 when 25 year old Sandra Smith and her co-defendant Yassiem Harris were hanged at Pretoria Central Prison for the murder of
Jermaine Abrahams in 1986. She was the last of 14 women executed between 1959 and 1989, all for murder.The previous three were Roos de Vos on the 12th of December 1986, Tryphinah Mthembu on the 30th of August 1985 and Maria Mahloo on the 22nd of March 1984.


South Korea.
On the 30th of December 1997, South Korea hanged five unnamed women and 18 men for various murders. These are the first reported female hangings there since two unidentified women were hanged on December the 18th, 1991, also for murder. A measured drop is used and executions are carried out in private within prisons. There have been no executions of either sex since.


The only known female execution in Swaziland took place on Saturday the 2nd of July 1983, when eight people were put to death for murder, including Philippa Mdluli, 48, who was executed for the ritual murder of her servantís two-year-old daughter. She was sentenced to death in 1982 after she was convicted of enticing one of her employees to give up his five-year-old daughter, Thuli Mabaso, to be killed for ritual purposes. Some of her body parts were removed to help enhance Mdluliís restaurant business. Mdluli was hanged at Sidwashini Prison in Mbabane, the capital of the country.

Before dawn on the 9th of July 1989, Chen Kao Lien-Yeh from Fangliao Township, Pingtung County was shot to death in Tainan Prison for murdering seven children in 1985 and 1986. She had intentionally laced the childrenís cookies and drinks with potassium cyanide. She confessed during her trial, that she had been jealous of other families' happiness after she lost her reproductive ability in 1973 due to uterine disease.
Yang Li-Hua from Taipei was shot to death in Taipei Detention Center on the 21st of July 1990 for the murder of her creditor in February 1989 Yang when she was unable to pay back a NT$ 5 million (ca. USD 160,000) debt.

Samai Pan-intara, aged 59, was executed by machine gun in Bangkwang prison on November the 23rd, 1999 for heroin trafficking, together with two male murderers. She was the first woman to be executed in Thailand for over 20 years. There were at least 11 other women on death row there at that time.

United Arab Emirates.
Eighteen year old Sithi Faruk from Sri Lanka was executed by firing squad in the United Arab Emirates in April 1995 for the murder of her employer's baby.
The UAE also executed a woman by firing squad on the 23rd of December 1997 for killing her Emirates husband. Egyptian born, Zainab Ramadan Zaki, had been convicted of the premeditated stabbing murder in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. Her six children insisted on the sentence being carried out. They could have spared her under Islamic law.

Vietnam has executed women by firing squad in public, principally for drug offences. On the 3rd of March 1998, Lai Thi Ngan, the only woman among seven members of a drugís ring, was tied to a wooden stake and shot at 5:30 a.m. at a firing range in Hanoi by five policemen.

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