Iranian authorities arrested a father for beheading his teenage daughter in her sleep last week, state media revealed on Tuesday. The beheading reportedly occurred after she eloped with an older man, making it a case of “honor killing.”
Romina Ashrafi, 13, reportedly ran away from her home in the northern province of Gilan against her father’s will with a 35-year-old man she had “fallen in love with.” Under Iranian Islamic law, girls are allowed to marry from the age of 13, although the average age of marriage is 23.
After being tracked down and returned home by the police, Ashrafi’s father used a sickle to slice off her head while she was sleeping.
He has since been arrested after confessing to his crime at the local police station, the governor of Talesh confirmed to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Tuesday. He added that further “details of this case will be made public after the legal process.”
Anger over the murder has swelled on social media amid reports that authorities were given “repeated warnings” that Ashrafi would be in danger if forced to return home. As the legal guardian of the victim, the father does not qualify for Islam’s “qisas” exception, which allows for lighter sentences in cases of retributive justice. However, he still faces a meager ten years in prison for carrying out the atrocity.
This 13-year old Iranian girl, Rumina, is a victim of anti-women laws in Iran.
A 35-year old man tricked her into eloping with him.
Then, she was arrested. The judge decided to hand her over to her dad.
Her dad cut her head off in her sleep.
There was no-one to save her pic.twitter.com/US1E6ep5cq
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) May 26, 2020
Amid public outcry, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on his cabinet to fast-track harsher punishments against “honor killings,” generally carried out by relatives who believe their honor has been compromised as a result of their female relative’s believed sexual behavior.
“[We plan to] revise the idea that a home is a safe place for children and women,” presidential aide Shahnaz Sajjadi reportedly told local media. “Crimes that happen against women in society are less than those that happen in the homes.”
There are no official statistics on the number of honor killings in Iran, although some studies estimate them as comprising 20 percent of murder cases. The figures shed further light on the country’s appalling human rights record, largely inspired by strict adherence to Sharia, the Islamic law.
The former vice president for women and family affairs and the current secretary of Iran’s Society for Protecting Women’s Rights, Shahindokht Molaverdi, wrote on Twitter, “Romina is neither the first nor will she be the last victim of honor killings.” She added that such murders would continue “as long as the law and dominant cultures in local and global communities are not deterring enough.”