Iran, beheaded 13 years from her father. The honor killing that shakes the country


The brutal murder of Romina Ashrafi at the hands of her father shook Iran, reopening the controversy surrounding the honor killing that is still “protected” by the Islamic code. Romina Ashrafi was 13 years old. She had fallen in love with a man older than her, a 35 year old from her own city, Hovigh, in the county of Talesh, in the north of the country, and had tried to escape from the family home with him. Stopped by the police, she was forced to return to her parents despite asking to be protected because she feared her father’s reaction, contrary to the marriage with the boy. Shortly after the girl returned home, taking advantage of her mother’s absence, Romina’s dad killed her by cutting off her head with a machete while she slept. The man has been arrested. According to some local newspapers, he allegedly handed himself over to the police after the murder with the murder weapon still in his hand. Hovigh District Governor Kazem Razmi confirmed to the Irna news agency that the murderer is in custody and an investigation has been opened into the case: “The suspect, accused of murder, is currently in prison and the authorities are working to complete the case and address its various dimensions, “explained Razmi.
The murder raised a wave of outrage and protests in Iran, the story was picked up by many Iranians in the diaspora, also prompting central authorities to intervene. According to the Rokna news agency, the vice president of the Islamic republic, one of the (few) prominent female figures in the country’s power system, Masoumeh Ebtekar, has ensured that President Hassan Rouhani will issue a “special order” to investigate the murder. .


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The notice of Romina’s funeral contributed to raising tension and protests. The image shows Romina smiling with a green veil that falls softly on her head and next to it are listed the men of the family she belongs to: the first on the list is the father of Romina, her murderer. The girl is identified as “daughter of” followed by the name of the father, “grandson of” with the name of the grandfather, “sister of” with the name of the male brother, and “grandson of” with the names of the two uncles, maternal and paternal.

The murder has reopened the debate on the so-called “honor killings” in Iran, which are partially protected by the Islamic penal code, and at the same time on the phenomenon of child brides. According to article 220 of the Islamic penal code, as “guardian” of the girl, Romina’s father will not be punished with the death penalty, foreseen for the murders, and could face a light sentence. In fact, the code does not criminalize so-called “honor” crimes, which can be prosecuted as murders, but provide for some forms of legal mitigation, for example compensation.


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The online newspaper Khabar Telling Romina’s case, she recalled that in 2014 a Tehran police officer said that 20 percent of the murders in Iran were honor killings. Yet, paradoxically, according to Islamic law Romina at her young age could already have been married: the code sets 13 years for women and 15 for men the age to be able to access marriage, another norm much criticized because it allows phenomenon of child brides.

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