Lenient sentence for father who beheaded daughter provokes outrage in Iran

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14-year-old Romina Ashrafi was beheaded by her father in May, after she attempted to elope with an older man.

A woman walks past the mural showing U.S. flag with barbed wire and the Statue Of Liberty with skull face in Tehran, Iran June 25, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A woman walks past the mural showing U.S. flag with barbed wire and the Statue Of Liberty with skull face in Tehran, Iran June 25, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

A father who beheaded his 14-year-old daughter for eloping has been handed a 9-year jail sentence, sparking outrage across Iran.

Rana Dashti, the girl’s mother, has said she would appeal the sentence as she fears for the lives of her only son and other relations. “I no longer want my husband to return to the village,” she told Iranian Labor news agency (ILNA) on Friday, according to The Guardian. Adding that she had no wish to stay with her husband of 15 years, she said that the court’s sentencing had “caused fear and panic for me and my family.”

The case has sparked controversy in the Islamic Republic over so-called ‘honor killings.’

14-year-old Romina Ashrafi ran away from home with a 28-year-old man, Bahman Khawri (some reports have given his age as 35), after her father refused to let them marry.

Khawri, who was sentenced to two years for his role by the same court, claimed the father had refused the marriage suit because of his Sunni faith. “The girl loved me and took refuge with me after her father used to beat her severely every day, affected by his excessive drug addiction, and she asked me to save her from daily torture by marrying her,” he said, when questioned over their age difference.

The pair were tracked down by police some 320km northwest a few days later, whom she begged not to return her, telling police she feared for her life.

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However, her father, as her legal guardian, had filed a complaint requiring the police to act, and Ashrafi was returned home. On May 21 Ashrafi was beheaded by her father with a scythe, as he felt she had shamed the family by running away. It later emerged that he had repeatedly asked his wife to persuade Romina to kill herself for having brought shame on the family.

The sentence has sparked outrage on social media by Iranians who have claimed that, in rural communities, such killings are frequent and implicitly endorsed by the Iranian state. In some provinces, as many as one in five murders are classified as honor killings, The Guardian reported.

The nine-year sentence has also been unfavorably compared to lengthy terms handed to women who protest the requirement to wear a hijab.

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