Brutal Murder of Romina Ashrafi Sparks Outrage in Iran

  • Romina had asked the police not to hand her over to her family because of her father's violent behavior.
  • Under current law, as the guardian of the murdered girl, he will not be punished by death, nor will he have to pay compensation to her heirs.
  • "Without a doubt our heavy duty is the judicial follow-up of the issue and harsh punishment for the perpetrator of this crime."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed regret on Wednesday over the murder of 13-year-old Romina Ashrafi by her father in Talesh, and ordered for speedy adoption of stricter laws against so-called “honor killings.” According to Iranian media reports, Romina Ashrafi’s father attacked the girl in her sleep on Tuesday and cut off her head with a sickle.

An honor killing or shame killing is the murder of a member of a family, due to the perpetrators’ belief that the victim has brought shame or dishonor upon the family, or has violated the principles of a community or a religion with an honor culture. While so-called “honor crimes” emanate from cultural and not religious roots and are perpetrated worldwide (mainly in patriarchal societies or communities), the majority of reported cases in Europe have been among Muslim or migrant Muslim communities.

Law enforcement said Romina had fled with a young man, and officers arrested her after five days after her family complained to police. The girl had asked the police not to hand her over to her family because of her father’s violent behavior. However, she was nonetheless returned home.

The news provoked strong reactions in the Iranian media and social networks, and once again brought the issue of domestic violence and “honor killings” to the attention of public opinion. On Wednesday, the Iranian President called on government officials to consider tougher laws against “honor killings,” and to expedite the handling of domestic violence.

Romina’s father has been arrested, but under current law, he will only be sentenced to pay diya or tazir. Article 220 of the Islamic Penal Code states that as the guardian of the murdered girl, he will not be punished by death, nor will he have to pay compensation to her heirs.

With the brutal murder of Romina Ashrafi by her father, the issue of domestic violence and honor killings and related laws and bills has been raised again. Bills have been put forward for many years by the efforts and pressure of activists and advocates for children’s rights and human rights in Iran. However, they have not yet been implemented due to the long administrative process and various decision-making bodies.

Hassan Rouhani is the seventh and current President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He has been a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts since 1999, and was Chief Nuclear Negotiator from 2003 to 2005. He was re-elected President in 2017.

Government Demands Harsh Punishment for Killer

Mahmoud Abbasi, Deputy Minister of Justice of Iran and Secretary of the National Authority for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, also responded to the murder, saying “without a doubt our heavy duty is the judicial follow-up of the issue and harsh punishment for the perpetrator of this crime.”

According to IRNA, Abbasi added,”but this issue isn’t the end of the road. It’s the beginning of a large and terrible road that requires us to take a step for the preventing of the sacrifice of Rominas in society.”

Mahmoud Abbasi blasted “a father who still lives in the Middle Ages and still considers his child the property of his divorce and does not recognize him as an independent human being who has rights like other children and human beings; She allows herself to be attacked and she even thinks her life depends on her will.”

Iran’s deputy justice minister called for a “tough response from the community,” and said the tragedy should “sound the alarm that the children have crossed the red line.”

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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