14-year-old Iranian girl’s gruesome ‘honor killing’ turns spotlight on Islamic practice

There is little data on honor killings in Iran where women and young girls are killed by family members or close relatives for actions perceived as violating conservative Islamic norms.

By Associated Press

The “honor killing” of a 14-year-old Iranian girl by her father, who reportedly used a farming sickle to behead her as she slept, has prompted a nationwide outcry.

Reza Ashrafi, now in custody, was apparently enraged when he killed his daughter Romina on Thursday after she ran away with 34-year-old Bahamn Khavari in Talesh, some 320 kilometers (198 miles) northwest of the capital, Tehran.

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

Romina was found five days after leaving home and taken to a police station, from which her father brought her back home. The girl reportedly told the police she feared a violent reaction from her father.

On Wednesday, a number of national newspapers featured the story prominently and the social media hashtag #RominaAshrafi reportedly has been used thousands times on social media, with most users condemning the killing.

There is little data on honor killings in Iran, where local media only occasionally report on such cases. Under the law, girls can marry after the age of 13, though the average age of marriage for Iranian women is 23. It is not known how many women and young 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 will be tried in a special court. Under the current law, her father faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years.