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Iran’s Rohani calls for stricter laws on ‘honor killings’ after beheading of 13-year-old girl

RFE/RL’s Radio Farda (27.05.2020) – https://bit.ly/3czVW2G – Iranian President Hassan Rohani has called for harsher laws to tackle so-called “honor killings” after the particularly shocking slaying of a teenage girl, allegedly by her father, prompted a nationwide outcry.

 

Rohani on May 27 pushed for the speedy adoption of relevant bills, some which have apparently circulated for years among various Iranian decision-making bodies without any tangible results.

 

The call comes after 13-year-old Romina Ashrafi was killed last week in Hovigh, some 320 kilometers northwest of Tehran.

 

Local media reported that the teenager was beheaded while she slept by her father, who used a farming sickle.

 

The father, Reza Ashrafi, was said to be enraged after Romina fled the family home to marry a 35-year-old man she loved.

 

Both of their families complained to the authorities, and security forces detained Romina and her boyfriend, Bahamn Khavari, following a five-day hunt.

 

Although Romina reportedly told police she would be in danger at home and feared for her life, the girl was handed over to her father as required by Iranian laws.

 

After the killing, the father allegedly turned himself in to police and confessed to the crime.

 

Hovigh district Governor Kazem Razmi said the man was in custody, charged with murder. He said the investigation into the case was still under way.

 

Meanwhile, the vice president for women’s affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, was quoted as announcing a “special order” from Rohani to investigate the killing.

 

Under current law, her father faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years if convicted.

 

According to the Islamic Penal Code, he was Romina’s “guardian,” so he is exempt from “retaliation in kind,” meaning the death penalty in this case.

 

Iranian media occasionally report on cases related to honor killings carried out by relatives, usually male family members, when the actions of women and girls are perceived as violating conservative traditions on love, marriage, and public behavior. It is not known how many women and girls die from such killings.

 

In 2014, a Tehran police official reported that 20 percent of all murders in the country were “honor” killings.

 

Romina’s boyfriend apparently faces no penalty since under Iran’s laws, girls can marry after the age of 13, though the average age of marriage for Iranian women is 23.





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PAKISTAN: Teenage girls shot dead by relatives over online footage

Father of one victim and brother of the other arrested in connection with the murders.

 

By Hannah Ellis-Petersen

 

The Guardian (17.05.2020) – https://bit.ly/3bKqyOA – Two female teenagers in Pakistan have been murdered by family members after a video emerged online of them associating with a man.

 

The pair, said to be aged 16 and 18, were shot dead by male relatives in their remote village in North Waziristan this week after footage was posted online of them in the company of a young man in a secluded area.

 

After they were shot, the pair were then buried in the village by their family members.

 

Local police confirmed they had arrested the father of one of the victims, and the brother of the other victim, in connection with arranging and carrying out the murders, and they were now being held in custody.

 

The police are searching for two other family members believed to have been involved in the killings.

 

The footage of the women, which is less than a minute long, was said to have been filmed last year but only appeared on social media a few weeks ago. The police said they were still searching for a third young woman who also featured in the video to ensure she did not suffer the same fate.

 

The tribal areas in North and South Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan, are known for the strict “honour code” imposed on women, whose movements are heavily restricted and who are often not allowed out of the house unaccompanied.

 

So called “honour” killings remain common in Pakistan’s tribal areas, mainly against women who are believed to have brought shame on a family, and activists say up to 1,000 such killings are still carried out every year.

 

The issue was brought to the fore in Pakistan in September after three men were found guilty and sentenced to life behind bars for the killing of three women in Kohistan who had been caught on video singing and clapping at a wedding in 2011. The women’s bodies were never found.

 

Though against the law, “honour” killing cases were previously difficult to convict owing to a loophole in the law that allowed perpetrators to walk free if they were given a pardon by the victim’s family member.

 

However, the crimes now come with a mandated life sentence.


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