Kathryn Lopez

March 8 marks what the United Nations designates "International Women's Day." I'll be thinking about an 18-year-old Iranian girl named Nazanin that day. Instead of letting activists waste the day denouncing George W. Bush and other protectors of human rights and freedom, the United Nations ought to use its bullhorn to insist that Nazanin become a household name.

Nazanin and her 16-year-old niece were about to be raped last year when the older girl stabbed two of their three attackers, killing one.

Nazanin reportedly told a criminal court that "I wanted to defend myself and my niece. I did not want to kill that boy. At the heat of the moment I did not know what to do because no one came to our help." But she was sentenced to death earlier this year for her crime. Her (insane) sentence is subject to higher court review.

International Women's Day this year should be Save Nazanin Day. It's not only this one young woman's life who might be saved, but countless unknowns in similar situations.

It's a hard position for the United Nations. The United Nations is an institution whose secretary-general continues to pass the buck on investigations into its relationship with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and a group that has a "human rights" watchdog commission that laughably includes the likes of Sudan, Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia. And the United Nations isn't nudged in the right direction when Amnesty International seems to miss the point of outrage in Nazanin's sentence. An AI January press release on the matter proclaimed: "Amnesty International calls for end to death penalty for child offenders." Offender? The girl killed a man in self-defense while being assaulted. She was not the criminal here.

And the next question Amnesty International should have asked while condemning the sentence was: What if Nazanin had not killed the attacker? Would she have been punished for rape in their sharia court? (Rape often translates into "adultery" as far as their sharia court is concerned, often requiring multiple male Muslim witnesses to the crime for it to be considered a legitimate rape case. As you might expect, such witnesses do not often materialize.) Instead of asking tough questions -- politically incorrect, but vitally important questions -- Amnesty outrageously puts Nazanin in league with a teen who broke into a home allegedly for a burglary, but wound up a convicted murderer.

In 2003, a Nigerian woman named Amina Lawal's life was spared, most likely because Westerners were paying attention. Divorced, she was charged with adultery; she testified that she had been raped. A court ordered her stoned her to death, but she was ultimately allowed to live on appeal.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.