An Iranian who beheaded his 14-year-old daughter has been sentenced to just nine years in prison, in a case that has sparked outrage over how Iranian law appears to enshrine men’s supposed rights over women’s lives.
Rana Dashti, mother of 14-year-old Romina Ashrafi, expressed her fury at the indulgent sentence in an interview with Iranian Labor News Agency (Ilna) on Friday and said the court ruling had “caused fear and panic for me and my family. “.
Romina was murdered by her father after running away with a 28-year-old man. Dashti said she would appeal the decision and that after 15 years she had no interest in continuing to live with her husband.
She added that she was worried about the life of her only son and other relationships. “I don’t want my husband to go back to the village anymore,” she told the news agency.
The case has sparked controversy in Iran over the frequency of so-called “honor” killings, children’s rights and gender bias in Iranian courts. Efforts to tighten the law to protect children have already been caught off guard by Iran’s Guardian Council, which ruled that parliament’s plans were not Islamic.
Critics say parts of Iran’s penal code are based on the assumption that men have the right to discipline women and girls if they do not conform to the social roles assigned to them.
Romina had begged justice not to return it to her father because she feared he would attack her, but her request was ignored.
The father – who in Iran is considered his daughter’s “guardian” – lodged a complaint, and the young girl, when summoned by the police, begged the judge not to send her home because she knew her father would try to kill her. .
According to an interview after the girl’s death, it emerged that the father repeatedly asked his wife to have Romina killed for dishonoring the family.
She was murdered with a scythe on May 21 after the father said he was ashamed that she had run away without his permission.
Security forces also arrested Bahman Khawri, the 28-year-old man, who was sentenced by the court to two years in prison. He claimed that the girl’s father refused to marry her because of her Sunni religion.
In response to a question about the age difference between them, Khawri told local media that she asked him to keep her away from her father. “The girl loved me and took refuge with me after her father beat her severely every day, affected by her excessive drug addiction, and she asked me to save her from the daily torture by marrying her,” a- he said.
The conviction has sparked outrage on Iranian social media as it is claimed that in more rural communities such “honor” killings are common and are implicitly endorsed by the Iranian state.
The nine-year sentence contrasts with the long prison terms imposed on women who protest against laws requiring the wearing of the hijab.
In some Iranian provinces, up to 20% of murders are classified as “honor” crimes.
The case comes as an Iranian #MeToo movement has started, with women on Twitter revealing details of instances where they feel pressured to have sex with men in authority.
Although women represent more than 50% of university students and are increasingly involved in the political process and decision-making, there are still obstacles to finding well-paid work. Women make up only 19% of the Iranian workforce.