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IRAN: Beheading of 17-year-old renews debate about violence against women

Beheading of 17-year-old shocks Iran, renews debate about violence against women

By Golnaz Esfandiari

 

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (08.02.2022) – https://bit.ly/3BcFjIs – After Sajjad Heydari beheaded his 17-year-old wife, Mona Heydari, he paraded her severed head in the streets of the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz in an attempt to prove that he’s an honorable man. Footage of the macabre scene was posted online showing him smiling.

Mona Heydari’s killing, which was reported on February 5, is the latest publicized case of an “honor killing” in which mostly women are killed by their male relatives on the grounds they dishonored their family for any number of alleged moral failings — including eloping, committing adultery, requesting a divorce, or even unfounded accusations of tainting the family’s reputation.

The gruesome killing in the capital of Khuzestan Province has shocked the nation and renewed a debate about widespread violence against women and the lack of legal protections.

Mona Heydari had reportedly fled to Turkey months before her slaying to live with a Syrian man she had met online. The young wife and mother of a 3-year-old son was killed a few days after she returned to Iran after reportedly receiving assurances from her family that she would be safe.

Her husband and his brother, who reportedly helped carry out the crime, are in custody.

Reports say Mona Heydari had been forced into marrying her cousin and that she had given birth to her son when she was only 14. According to Iranian media reports, she is said to have been subjected to violence by her husband, who had refused to divorce her.

Many in Iran have blamed the Islamic legal system as well as the country’s patriarchal culture and traditions for fostering an environment that allows for such a killing, which comes less than two years after 14-year-old Romina Ashrafi was beheaded by her father in northern Iran. Ashrafi’s father, who before killing her had consulted a lawyer to find out what punishment he could face for the crime, was later sentenced to eight years in prison.

U.S.-based sociologist Hossein Ghazian told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that many men believe the women in their families are their property.

“Men own the mind and bodies of women. They draw a line and consider it a societal duty to protect their honor,” Ghazian said. “If they fail, they believe they have to prove their honor, and [often] do so by by killing the women whose bodies have been violated.”

 

‘There Is No Law’

Female lawmaker Elham Azad said “there is no law with an executive guarantee” to protect women from violence in Iran.

She expressed hope that pending legislation on the Protection, Dignity And Security Of Women Against Violence would prevent such horrific crimes in the future.

The bill, passed by the government of then-President Hassan Rohani in January 2021 but waiting to be passed into law by parliament, criminalizes violence against women, including action or behavior that causes “physical or mental harm” to women.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that, despite having “a number of positive provisions,” the proposed legislation falls short of international standards.

Iran’s vice president for women’s and family affairs, Aniseh Khazali, wrote on Twitter in the wake of Mona Heydari’s killing that parliament placed an urgent review of the bill on its agenda after fixing “shortcomings.”

Khazali also said that the judiciary is determined to impose the most severe punishment against Sajjad Heydari and his accomplice. She did not provide further details.

 

‘We Did Not Get Any Results’

Lawyer Ebrahim Nikdel Ghadam, who represented Ashrafi’s high-profile case, argued in court at that time that Iranian law did not create a deterrent against such killings.

He said Ashrafi’s father did not receive the highest sentence he could receive for murdering a child, which is punishable by three to 10 years. He was exempt from the “retribution” law — meaning the death penalty — since according to the Islamic Penal Code he was the girl’s guardian.

 

“The beheaded child bride might be alive today if Iran’s government had enacted laws against the cruel practice of child marriage and protections against domestic violence.” — Hadi Ghaemi, Center for Human Rights in Iran

 

However, Nikdel Ghadam said the court didn’t accept an additional punishment of internal exile, which is allowed under Iranian law.

“Although Romina’s mother was terribly afraid for herself…and this concern was raised many times in court, we did not get any results. Why? Because there are problems in this field when it comes to the law,” he said.

He also suggested that light sentences for those who kill their female relatives pave the way for more such killings.

“We see that they did not deal with the case and a brutal murder properly to set [an example], and the result was that less than two years later we are witnessing another tragic event, another life lost,” he said.

Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, said Iranian authorities are “as responsible for Heydari’s death as her murderers.”

“The beheaded child bride might be alive today if Iran’s government had enacted laws against the cruel practice of child marriage and protections against domestic violence,” Ghaemi said on Twitter.

Photo credits: Social Media





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INDONESIA: Indonesian woman flogged 100 times for adultery, partner gets 15

Indonesian woman flogged 100 times for adultery, partner gets 15

Channel News Asia (13.01.2022) – https://bit.ly/3tlEY4i – An Indonesian woman was flogged 100 times on Thursday (Jan 13) in conservative Aceh province for adultery while her male partner, who denied the accusations, received just 15 lashes.

 

Ivan Najjar Alavi, the head of the general investigation division at East Aceh prosecutors office, said the court handed down a heftier sentence for the married woman after she confessed to investigators she had sex out of her marriage.

 

Judges found it difficult to convict the man, who was then the head of East Aceh fishery agency and also married, because he denied all wrongdoings, Alavi added.

 

“During the trial, he admitted nothing, denying all accusations. Thus, [judges] are not able to prove whether he is guilty,” Alavi told reporters after a public flogging for Sharia law offenders in East Aceh on Thursday.

 

Aceh is the only region in Muslim-majority Indonesia to impose Islamic law, which allows whipping for charges including gambling, adultery, drinking alcohol, and gay sex.

 

As an alternative punishment, instead the judges found the married man guilty of “showing affection to a female partner who is not his wife” after the couple were caught by locals at a palm oil plantation in 2018.

 

He was initially sentenced to 30 lashes but his successful appeal at the Sharia Supreme Court in Aceh reduced the sentence to 15.

 

The woman’s flogging was briefly paused because she couldn’t bear the pain, according to an AFP reporter in the field.

 

Another man convicted of having sex with a minor was also whipped 100 times on Thursday.

 

The man will also serve 75 months in prison for the crime after the flogging according to prosecutors.

 

Dozens watched, recorded and put Thursday’s flogging on social media, a spectacle criticised by rights groups but which regularly attracted hundreds before the pandemic.

 

Unlike the rest of the nation, Aceh follows religious law as part of a 2005 autonomy deal agreed with the central government that ended a decades-long separatist insurgency.

 

Human rights groups slam public caning as cruel, and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has called for it to end.

 

However, it has strong support among Aceh’s population.

 

Photo credits: AFP/Cek Mad





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FRANCE: Frenchwoman shot, burnt alive by husband near Bordeaux

France 24 (05.05.2021) – https://bit.ly/3h3wubXA 31-year-old French mother of three was burned alive by her husband, who chased her down the street and shot her in the legs before dousing her in a flammable liquid and setting her alight, police said Wednesday.

The grisly attack took place in broad daylight Tuesday in the well heeled  Merignac neighbourhood, near Bordeaux airport, in the southwest.

 

The woman and the 44-year-old man were separated. Their children aged three, seven and 11 lived with their mother.

 

The man fired several shots at the woman as she fled down a street, hitting her in the legs. After she collapsed, he set her alight, police said.

He was arrested half an hour after the murder in the neighbouring district of Pessac, armed with a pistol, a pellet gun and a cartridge belt, the Bordeaux prosecutor’s office said.

He is suspected both of his wife’s murder and of having started fire that damaged her home.

Local authorities have set up a counselling service for witnesses to the killing.

The couple’s children were not at home at the time of the attack, the prosecutor’s office said, adding that they were receiving trauma counselling.

The issue of domestic violence and killings sparked protests in France in 2019. Campaigners complained that women who attempted to report abusive partners to the police were often being turned away.

That year saw 146 women reported killed by a spouse or partner, a 21-percent increase on the previous year.

After an outcry, the government introduced the use of electronic bracelets to alert victims when their attackers are nearby.

 

In 2020, the number of killings fell to 90.

 

 

 

HRWF additional information

 

On 6 May, the Prosecutor in charge of the case met with the press and released a number of additional details.

 

The victim is identified as Chahinez D. She was 13 years younger than her husband, her assassin. They first met in Algeria and she came to France in 2015. One year later she gave birth to a child. She already had two children, born in Algeria.

 

The murderer, Mounir B., was born in Algeria in 1976. He has double citizenship, Algerian and French. During a first marriage, he got three children now aged 20, 18 and 11 years. He divorced in 2015. He has had a regular job as a mason for 20 years. He has a criminal record with seven condemnations, including the last one for domestic violence against Chahinez D. in 2020. He was then sentenced to 18 months in prison, nine of which were suspended, and after six months, he was released for good behaviour during his detention.

 

They were officially separated and when he was released, he was not allowed to approach her any more. However, he did not respect this prohibition on several occasions. When summoned by some judicial authorities, he recognized these breaches of the agreement but remained unpunished and was not obliged to wear an electronic bracelet.

 

The Prosecutor specified that the family of the murderer did not want his name to be released publicly because they had already received threats on social media.

 

Photo credits: Thomas Samson, AFP





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AFGHANISTAN: Herat woman whipped by taliban for alleged affair

The Herat Department of Women’s Affairs on Wednesday said that Taliban fighters publicly lashed a woman from Oba district over reports that she had an affair with a man.

 

Tolo News (14.04.2021) – https://bit.ly/2Qq7tge – The video footage, which was widely shared on social media, appears to show dozens of Taliban fighters surrounding a woman and lashing her.

 

The video footage, which was widely shared on social media, appears to show dozens of Taliban fighters surrounding a woman and lashing her.

 

“Based on the information that we have, the incident happened in the Greshk area of Oba district in Herat,” said Anisa Sarwari, the head of the Herat Women’s Affairs Department.

 

“Is it appropriate that the people see such events by the Taliban during the peace process, how the Taliban claims that they want to make peace and reconcile with the people,” said Monisa Hassanzada, the deputy governor of Herat.

 

Coming at the same time as the announcement of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and the unclear fate of the peace process, this event has worried women in Herat.

 

Women have warned that if the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan is not done in a responsible way, the achievements of Afghan women in the past two decades will be lost and they will once again face severe restrictions.

 

“We are in a situation where targeted attacks are carried out against the women, most of the attacks are claimed by the Taliban, there is still acts of violence by the Taliban against women in Herat and other remote areas of Afghanistan,” said civil society activist Zahra Karamat.

 

“If the US forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan is done in an irresponsible way, the women will face an insecure peace and their humanitarian rights and liberties will be sacrificed and the women will face a dark future,” said Halima Salimi, the head of the Afghan’s Women Network in Herat.

 

“If someone commits a crime, first there is a need for an investigation and evidence to prove that a crime was committed, then there should be an authorized court to issue a verdict but not in the kangaroo court,” said religious scholar Abdul Khaliq Haqqani.

 

The Taliban has said that they will investigate the footage.

 

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told TOLOnews that the group had not held such a trial in recent months in Herat.

 

Photo credits: Tolo News





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UNICEF: Joining forces for a research agenda on violence against children and women

By Aník Gevers, Elizabeth Dartnall, Alessandra Guedes, and Claudia García-Moreno

 

UNICEF (07.04.2021) – https://bit.ly/3txkzqf – There is growing global recognition of the intersections between violence against women and violence against children. Currently there is insufficient interaction between these fields, and evidence on interventions to address these linkages is limited. It is vital to identify knowledge/evidence gaps to address the intersections of these two forms of violence in order to strengthen prevention and response programming to achieve the best outcomes for both women and children.

 

To address this need, the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI),  UNICEF Innocenti, and the Special Programme on Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP) hosted by WHO are joining efforts to develop a global research agenda on the intersections between violence against women and violence against children. The new research agenda will contribute to building knowledge in a more systematic way, ensure that research efforts make the best use of limited resources, and serve to monitor progress over time. It will also inform the implementation of the multiagency RESPECT Women and INSPIRE frameworks, support UNICEF’s commitment to respond to the gender dimensions of violence, SRVI Grant-making and promote coherence in the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Historically, research agendas have been largely driven by researchers with limited input from other stakeholders. To promote participation and minimize the risks of bias, we are proposing to adapt the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative method and use online surveys and meetings to reach a wide group of stakeholders. SVRI, UNICEF Innocenti and WHO/HRP together make up the Coordinating Group which will implement this effort. An Advisory Group will help develop the framework and provide technical input and guidance throughout the process. Finally, a broad group of Global Stakeholders – including researchers, advocates, policy-makers, and practitioners representing different countries, settings, disciplines and areas of focus – will provide inputs and promote dissemination and implementation of the final research agenda widely.

 

Collaborative approach

 

The initiative will build on lessons learned through collaboration with the Global Shared Research Agenda on Violence against Women and Girls, led by SVRI and the Equality Institute, with participation of UNICEF Innocenti and the WHO, among others. Close collaboration among these processes will promote complementarity of the initiatives.

 

A stepwise approach to identifying research priorities for the intersections of violence against women and violence against children involves five broad phases (See https://bit.ly/3dtei9t).

 

In partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Gender Violence and Health Centre, two systematic reviews are underway that will identify research gaps in the published literature. These reviews focus on: The co-occurrence of intimate partner violence and child maltreatment: a systematic review of the common contributing factors and on interventions that address both child maltreatment and intimate partner violence in a coordinated way. In addition, other relevant systematic reviews will be identified.

 

The Coordinating and Advisory groups will develop a framework to guide a prioritisation process. Global Stakeholders will be invited to rank research priorities and provide additional inputs. The outcomes of these processes will be collated and analysed to identify research questions deemed to be of priority by the field. The Advisory Group will provide oversight of the analysis and results before they are widely disseminated, including through Global Stakeholder network.

 

Moving forward together

 

Researchers, practitioners, activists and donors from both the violence against women and violence against children fields are recognizing that collaboration and increased coherence in programming are essential to meet women’s, adolescents’, and children’s needs, and to maximise synergies. Therefore, rather than focusing on research priorities for women or children separately, this initiative will specifically target gaps in knowledge on the intersections between these different but related forms of violence.

 

A consultative, inclusive process among violence against women and violence against children stakeholders will identify areas where research can enhance coordination, alignment and consistency. The process, as much as the outcomes, will help strengthen both fields and build bridges for the benefit of children and women everywhere.

 

If you would like to join the Global Stakeholders, please sign up and we will include you in the database. All are welcome.

 

For more information about this research priority setting process, please contact Anik Gevers (SVRI) at anik@svri.org

 

Important links


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