Iran’s President Calls for ‘Honor Killings’ to be Banned After 14-Year-Old Girl is Beheaded by Her Father as She Slept

Romina Ashrafi, a 14-year-old girl who is the alleged victim of a so-called ‘honour killing’ in Iran. Photograph: Twitter screengrab

Iran’s president has called for swift action to outlaw so-called “honour killings” after the death of a 14-year-old Iranian girl allegedly at the hands of her father prompted a nationwide outcry.

Hassan Rouhani urged his cabinet to act after Romina Ashrafi was allegedly killed by her father for running away with her boyfriend, 34-year-old Bahamn Khavari, in Talesh, 320km (198 miles) north-west of Tehran.

Reza Ashrafi, who is now in custody, is accused of using a farming sickle to behead her as she slept.

Shahnaz Sajjadi, an aide to the president on human rights affairs, on Wednesday told the news website: “We should revise the idea that home is a safe place for children and women. Crimes that happen against women in society are less than those that happen in the homes.”

In traditional societies in the Middle East, including Iran, blame would typically fall on a runaway girl for purportedly having sullied her family’s honour, rather than on an adult male luring away a child.

Romina was found five days after leaving home and taken to a police station. Her father brought her back home despite the girl reportedly telling police she feared a violent reaction from him.

On Wednesday, national newspapers featured the story prominently and the social media hashtag #RominaAshrafi spread on social media, with most users condemning the killing.

Proposed legislation against so-called “honour killings” has apparently shuttled for years among various decision-making bodies in Iran.

There is little data on such killings in Iran, where local media occasionally report on such cases. Under the law, girls can marry after the age of 13, though the average age of marriage is 23. It is not known how many women and girls are killed by family members or close relatives because of their actions, perceived as violating conservative Islamic norms on love and marriage.

Iran’s judiciary said Romina’s case would be tried in a special court. Under the current law, her father would face a prison sentence of up to 10 years if found guilty.

Iran’s vice president in charge of family affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, expressed hope that a bill with harsher punishments would soon be in the final stages of approval.

SOURCE: The Associated Press