Outrage in Iran over gruesome 'honour killing' of teenage girl

James Rothwell
Romina Ashrafi, who was 14 years old, was reportedly beheaded by her father in an 'honour killing' after she ran off with her 34-year-old boyfriend - Ben Jones/Ben Jones

Iran’s president has called for so-called honour killings to be outlawed following the gruesome murder of a teenage girl, allegedly by her father, for running away from home with an older man. 

Romina Ashrafi, 14,  was allegedly beheaded by her father as punishment for fleeing her home in Talesh, near Tehran, with a 29-year-old man. 

The couple were detained and Romina was handed back to her family as her father appeared to have forgiven her, according to the state news agency IRNA. 

But on May 21, the girl’s father attacked her while she was sleeping and cut off her head with a sickle, according to a local news website called Gilkhabar. 

The father has since been arrested, as well as the man Romina eloped with according to local media reports. 

Under Iranian law, young girls can marry from 13 although most women get married in their early 20s according to the Associated Press.  

If convicted, the girl’s father would face a prison sentence of ten years. Iran’s penal code currently reduces the penalties for fathers, or other family members, who carry out honour killings on their relatives

Romina’s death has shocked Iran and prompted Hassan Rouhani, the president, to order his Cabinet to speed up legislation against so-called honour killings. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has told his cabinet to speed up legislation against so-called 'honour killings' - ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

"Without a doubt our heavy duty is the judicial follow-up of the issue and harsh punishment for the perpetrator of this crime," said Mahmoud Abbasi, the Iranian deputy justice minister. 

"But this issue isn't the end of the road. It's the beginning of a large and terrible road that requires us to take a step for the prevention of the sacrifice of Rominas in society."

In an interview with an Iranian news website the girl’s mother, Rana Dashti, claimed that her husband killed their daughter due to his extreme religious beliefs. 

“My husband had on several occasions asked me to teach Romina how to hang herself, but I refused to do so. He had bought some rat killer poison and had told Romina if she does not eat it he would have to kill her himself,” she told Faraz news. 

Many Iranians took to social media to express their fury at Romina’s murder, with the Persian hashtag #Romina_Ashrafi being used around 50,000 times on Twitter. 

"Curse all of the brain damaged culture and tradition that leads to the death of Rominas," a Twitter user named Azadehkt posted.

“As long as the current laws discriminating against girls and empowering abusive parents exist, unfortunately the cycle of violence will continue,” wrote Masih Alinejad, an Iranian activist and journalist, on Twitter.