Romina Ashrafi: ‘Honour killing’ sparks outcry in Iran

President Rouhani requests his cabinet expedite laws against ‘honour killings’ after the murder of a 14-year-old girl.

Romina Ashrafi
Romina Ashrafi was reportedly murdered while sleeping by her father [Screen grab/Twitter]

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has requested his cabinet to speed up harsher laws in so-called “honour killings” amid a social media outcry over the murder of a 14-year-old girl by her father.

Rouhani pushed on Wednesday for speedy adoption of relevant bills, some of which have apparently shuttled for years among various decision-making bodies in Iran.

Separately, Masoumeh Ebtekar, the vice president of Iran for Women and Family Affairs, announced a special order to investigate the murder, while she also requested the cabinet to expedite and prioritise the relevant bills. 

The killing last week of Romina Ashrafi in the town of Talesh, some 320 kilometres (198 miles) northwest of the capital, Tehran, prompted a nationwide and social media outcry.

She was reportedly murdered while sleeping by her father, Reza Ashraf, who used a farming sickle to kill her.

The father, who is now in custody, was apparently enraged after she ran away with her 34-year-old boyfriend Bahamn Khavari in Talesh. 

Five days later, after she escaped, they were found by authorities and Ashrafi reportedly told the police she feared a violent reaction from her father.

Rouhani expressed regret over the case.

On Wednesday, different local media outlets highlighted the story, and a social media outcry followed under the hashtag #Romina_Ashrafi.

There is little data on so-called “honour killings” in Iran, where local media 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 family or societal 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.

Iran’s vice president in charge of family affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, expressed hope that a bill with harsher punishments will soon be in the final stages of approval.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies