Iran, father murders daughter after elopement. Activists and civil society in revolt
Reza Ashrafi killed 14-year-old Romina in her sleep. Previously the girl had run away with a 34-year-old man. For critics, it is an example of "institutionalized violence" in a country linked to a "patriarchal" idea of the family and society. The murderer faces three to 10 years in prison.
Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The brutal murder of a 14-year-old girl at the hands of her father, because she was "guilty" of having fled previously with a man she had fallen in love with, has raised indignation and protests in Iranian civil society.
President Hassan Rouhani and the vice president delegated to Women and the family have also intervened on the matter promising the approval of a harsher law against "honor killing"; however, opposition from the conservative and religious radial wing risks burying the draft norm.
Commenting on the episode, news agencies in the Islamic Republic close to the reformist and moderate faction speak of "institutionalized violence" in a country still too tied to a "patriarchal" idea of the family and society. The Ebtekar newspaper opened with the news on the front page, underlining the climate of violence and "insecurity" within the family. On social media, the hashtag #RominaAshrafi has gone viral in these hours, with the vast majority of Internet users firm in condemning the murder.
The author of the "honor killing" Reza Ashrafi, currently in pre-trial detention in prison, killed his 14-year-old daughter Romina in her sleep on May 21, slaughtering her with a sickle. The father wanted to punish his daughter for running away from home for a few days with Bahamn Khavari, 34, with whom she was in love.
The story happened in Talesh, a town located 320 km north-west of Tehran. According to initial reports Reza had forbidden his daughter to marry a man 15 years older than her. Romina fled leaving the family home for a few days, then was discovered and taken to a police station. The judge, despite the petitions of the girl who feared being killed, ordered that she be returned to her father.
In Iran, the legal age for marriage is 13 years for women. Furthermore, in similar events, most of the time the fault lies with the young girl, even if a minor, who runs away and not on the man - often older than her - who kidnaps her. However, what raises more indignation in public opinion is the "slight" punishment that threatens the father, from three to a maximum of 10 years in prison, with the possibility of further reductions. For this reason, several reformist newspapers and members of civil society speak of "institutionalized violence" in a nation where a "patriarchal culture" still exists today.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed "profound displeasure" over the murder during a government meeting held yesterday. He also called for the short-term approval of a norm against domestic violence. Vice-President Masoumeh Ebtekar then added that a law for the protection of minors is in the "final phase" of evaluation by the Council of Guardians of the Constitution. The body evaluates the rules based on compliance with the Constitution and sharia law. Previously it had been rejected three times and sent back to Parliament because it was considered contrary to the inspiring principles of the Islamic Republic.
Shahnaz Sajjadi, close collaborator of the vice-president, calls for a change in the "common thought that the home is a safe place for children and women" and that there are no major differences between "crimes against women in society" and those that occur within the home. In spite of the brutal murder, many fear that once again the norm will be dismissed by the conservatives.