The murder of a 14-year-old girl in Iran who ran off with an older man has renewed calls for the government to impose harsher punishments on so-called honor killings.
In mid-May, Romina Ashrafi fled the town of Talesh with her 34-year-old boyfriend, Bahamn Khavari. They were apprehended by police less than a week later.
Under Iranian law, girls as young as 13 can marry, although the average age is 23.
Police turned Ashrafi over to her father, even though the teenager said she feared for her life, Iranian state media reported.
Her father, Reza Ashrafi, is accused of beheading his daughter while she was sleeping May 21. Local media reported he used a farming sickle in the slaying.
He is currently in custody and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of murder.
The killing has prompted outrage nationwide, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has reportedly urged his Cabinet to fast-track legislation that would impose harsher punishments for honor killings.
There are no government statistics on the number of women and girls who die in honor killings each year in Iran. The US State Department notes the practice occurs most often among rural and tribal populations.
In a statement, Amnesty International wrote it was “appalled that the Iranian authorities repeatedly ignored Romina’s pleas for protection from her violent and abusive father.”
The rights group called on Iran’s authorities to criminalize domestic violence and to ensure accountability that doesn’t resort to the death penalty.
Reza Pahlavi, the exiled son of Iran’s last shah, wrote on Twitter that the country’s regressive laws enabled Ashrafi’s murder.
“Laws that permit domestic violence, honor killings, child abuse & child marriage do not belong in the 21st century,” he wrote. “The solution is a return to secular law.”