Not a week goes by in Iran without honor killings of young women making news headlines.
Over the past year, 16 women have been killed in Kurdistan province, in western Iran, for reasons of honor or domestic violence, according to Iranian newspaper Eastern. The statistic published by the newspaper and local Iranian media drew on a report by Iranian activist Bahar Zinc Qayn to protect women’s rights in the capital city of Sinendj, Kurdistan province.
In its report, the newspaper indicated that the last girl killed was a child aged 13, who died of arson in Mariwan. The case was not published in the media. Among the horrific crimes in Iran against women last year were the beheading of 13-year-old Romina Ashrafi by her father, the murder of 22-year-old Rehana Amri, also by her father, the death of Malleh Ahni, and the murder of Fatima Farhi in the Arab city of Abadan in southern Iran by her husband. The 19-year-old girl Fatima Brehy was slaughtered, when she entered her husband’s home from which she fled.
On August 21, Sabri Nalbandi, 24, was murdered by her husband in Takab, in West Azerbaijan province, northwestern Iran. Her husband burned the house to remove evidence of his crime. Sabri had a child.
On August 8, Sara Pirzadi’s cousin shot her to death for marrying another man.
On August 6, Reza Ahmadian, 42, opened fire on his wife and her family in a garden in Sanandaj. Shilan Mondami, 24, had married Reza at the age of 14 but had no children. She had asked for a divorce, two weeks earlier, Bayan and Sahar Mohammadi were killed by Bayan’s husband.
Mobina Souri was a victim of child marriages, which are nowadays rampant in Iran. Unfounded rumors about the young woman having an affair led to her death. Initially, the girl’s family and in-laws said it was a suicide. investigations revealed that she had been murdered. Finally, her husband confessed that he had killed her.
Iranian laws Tolerant about Killing Women and Honor Crimes
Violence against women is one of the worst violations of human rights in the world. Yet, in Iran, it has not been criminalized. The laws on the punishment of the murderers are weak, giving them special privileges and giving them the license to kill.
In many cases of honor killings of young women, the police and the judiciary act negligently, their conduct is a license to kill, as seen in most cases.
Different analyses are based on the clerical regime’s misogynous laws and patriarchal culture institutionalized in Iranian society and families. A women’s rights activist says honor killings in Iran are publicly explained as caused by “family disputes.”
Rezvan Moghaddam, who has documented the honor killings in Iran over the past decades, questions its justification. She says, “This is just an effort to conceal the truth. For example, what could be the family disputes between a father and his 13-year-old daughter or between a brother and his elder sister? There are other reasons behind these problems.
In other cases, families regard divorce as a disgrace. To protect the family’s honor, male relatives murder a woman who asks for a divorce. Again, this is explained under the title of ‘family disputes’.
Laws on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women should be Implemented
The statistics on violence rise by the day, and one can palpably see the collaboration among the political, legal, and patriarchal apparatus of the regimes working against women.
Articles 612 and 630 of the Islamic Punishment Law are related to women. In these articles, the Judiciary is not in charge and grants the legal decision to the murderer. Thus violence against women finds its legal justifications and license and is implemented based on patriarchal views and reactionary traditions.
Iranian law also criminalizes consensual sexual relations outside marriage, punishable by flogging, which puts women at risk of prosecution if they report rape and are not believed by the authorities. Iran is an exception to the mainstream, as it is among less than 50 countries without family violence laws. More than half of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa region have such laws.
Iran is one of only four states that has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Despite efforts by women activists and a bill passed by Parliament in July 2003 to accede to the Convention, the Council for the Maintenance of the Iranian Constitution (a body of scholars and religious experts empowered to scrutinize parliamentary legislation) has not approved the draft, which has since been in legislative deadlock.