The beheading of a 14-year-old Iranian girl by her father after she fled with an older man who prepared her has sparked international outrage.
Romina Ashrafi was reportedly killed last Thursday by her father, Reza Ashrafi, who used an agricultural tool to cut off her head while she was sleeping.
The BBC reported that Romina ran away from her home in Gilan province, Iran with Bahamn Khavari, 34, after her father opposed their marriage.
The couple was found by the police five days later. Although Romina reportedly warned the police that her life would be in danger if she returned home, they escorted her to her family’s home.
According to Gilkhabar.ir, Ashrafi was brutally dismembered with a sickle, a curved blade tool that is generally used for harvesting. After the crime, the girl’s father confessed to the crime “with sickle in hand”
On Wednesday, Romina’s story appeared on the front pages of many national newspapers. On social media, the hashtag #RominaAshrafi has been fueled by messages from users around the world who are demanding justice.
The Associated Press reports that Reza Ashrafi is now in police custody and is likely to be tried in a special court where he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.
Hovigh district governor Kazem Razmi told the Iranian regime-controlled Iranian news agency IRNA that an investigation into the murder is underway and that the results will be made public.
Romina’s murder has been described by many as an “honor killing”, an act prevalent in some hard-line Muslim societies in which relatives kill family members who they believe have dishonored the family in any way.
On Wednesday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called on his cabinet to quickly enact stricter laws on honor killings.
Masoumeh Ebtekar, Iran’s vice president for family affairs, told the AP that he hopes a bill creating more severe penalties for honor killings will pass the final stages of approval.
The United Nations Children’s Fund released a statement Thursday condemning the murder.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Romina Ashrafi, a 14-year old Iranian girl, at the hands of her father. At a time when families all over the world are staying home to protect themselves from COVID-19, it’s particularly devastating that a child loses her life in such a brutal act of violence.” the statement says.
“Nothing justifies violence against children“
UNICEF stressed that “nothing justifies violence against children”.
“All children in Iran- every girl and every boy- should be protected at all times against all forms of violence. UNICEF confirms its support to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to put an end to all forms of violence against children in the country so that all children grow up protected and safe.”
Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad wrote on Twitter that Ashrafi is not the first and will not be the last victim of honor killings in Iran if the laws are not changed.
“Years ago, Atefeh Navidi, a young girl from Iran, had her head chopped off by her father as well because she had a boyfriend. As you can hear from the interview I had with the mum, she’s hesitant to defend her daughter,” Alinejad said.
The Amnesty International group criticized the Iranian authorities for returning Ashrafi to his father despite his requests for security.
“We’re appalled that the Iranian authorities repeatedly ignored Romina’s pleas for protection from her violent and abusive father,” Amnesty International posted on Twitter.
Rana Dashti, the mother of #RominaAshrafi, the 13-year-old girl decapitated by her father in Iran, said Romina’s father initially bought rat poison and tried to convince Romina to kill herself. Then her husband asked her to teach Romina how to hang herself. #HonorKilling pic.twitter.com/b63OcNOS5Z
— Iran International English (@IranIntl_En) May 27, 2020
Here’s what I told @DailyMailUK about the tragic murder of Romina & how the Islamic Republic of Iran photoshopped her to ensure she’s “properly” veiled.
This poor girl was not only killed by her father, but also by the Islamic Republic’s anti-women lawshttps://t.co/mNT5VGRzJM
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) May 28, 2020
Amnesty International is horrified to learn that 13-year-old Romina Ashrafi was beheaded in her sleep by her father in an “honour killing” in Iran. We’re appalled that the Iranian authorities repeatedly ignored Romina’s pleas for protection from her violent and abusive father. pic.twitter.com/kc0EtcPOwK
— Amnesty Iran (@AmnestyIran) May 27, 2020
3-This is not the first time such a tragic incident occurs. Years ago, Atefeh Navidi, a young girl from Iran, had her head chopped off by her father as well because she had a boyfriend. As you can hear from the interview I had with the mum, she’s hesitant to defend her daughter pic.twitter.com/aE7UXesVzp
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) May 26, 2020
Source, BBC and Fox News