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Honor Killings of Young Women in Iran Going Unpunished Due to Misogynistic Laws

Iranian women protest against systematic violence against women, Image: Archive

In the past few weeks, stories of honor killings in Iran have been making headlines in the news across the country with young women being murdered by their husbands or male relatives.

In such cases, the police and the judiciary are deemed to be acting negligently in preventing these murders from happening or prosecuting the men involved following the criminal acts, effectively giving these men the ‘license to kill’. This notion appears to be true in the cases of Romina Ashrafi who was murdered by her father in Gilan and Sargol Habibi from Sanandaj who was killed by her husband, as well as the case of Bayan and Sahar Moradi who were murdered by Bayan’s husband, after legal complaints that were put forward by Bayan of her husband’s previous acts of violence were ignored.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) Women Committee reported, “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.”

One of the more recent cases was that of Mobina Souri. The 14-year-old was strangled to death with her headscarf by her husband on August 30 in Lorestan province. She was a victim of child marriages which are all too common in Iran. The reason given for her murder was unfounded rumors that she had been having an affair. At first, Souri’s family and her in-laws claimed her death was a suicide until later investigations and a confession from her husband proved that she had been murdered.

24-year-old mother Sabri Nalbandi was also murdered by her husband, who then burned the house down to hide evidence of his crime. On August 8, Sara Pirzadi was shot to death by her cousin for marrying another man, while Shilan Mondami’s husband opened fire on her and her family on August 6 because she had asked to divorce him.

The NCRI Women Committee said, “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 differences’.”

Rezvan Moghaddam has documented honor killings in Iran for the past few decades and explained that many families regard divorce as a disgrace, so the women are murdered to ‘protect the family’s dignity’.

She said, “Violence against women is not criminalized. A lack of safe shelters for battered women and a lack of sound judicial investigations have made life very difficult for women. The statistics on violence rise by the day, and one can palpably see the collaboration among the political, legal, and patriarchal regimes against women.”

The NCRI Women Committee said, “Articles 612 and 630 of the Islamic Punishment Law are related to women. In these articles, the Judiciary is not responsible 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.”

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