Teenager Romina Ashrafi ran away from her home to elope with her 34-year-old boyfriend Bahamn Khavari after her family objected to the union. The pair was caught by the cops nearly 200 miles north of Tehran. Ashrafi was forced to return home, despite pleading with authorities and claiming she feared for her life.
Last week, Ashrafi was allegedly beheaded with a sickle in her bedroom by her father, Reza Ashrafi, who then walked out of his house with the sickle in his hand and confessed, local reports claimed. Reza Ashrafi is currently in custody.
Under Iranian law, girls can get married as young as 13.
The grisly death has ignited a firestorm in the country as calls for the brutal so-called honor killings to stop grows.
Honor killings are typically carried out on a family member who is thought to have brought dishonor upon relatives. Reasons can include anything from refusing to enter into an arranged marriage to being the victim of a sexual assault or rape. Killings also have been carried out for not agreeing with the way a woman or girl is dressed to displaying behavior that is believed to be disobedient.
Punishment for honor killings is not as severe as other crimes.
In Iran, if a man is found guilty of an honor killing, the typical punishment ranges between three and 10 years in prison, which is significantly less than the normal death sentence or severe punishment for other murder cases.
But the tides in the conservative country could be turning.
As of Thursday, the Persian hashtag #Romina_Ashrafi had been used more than 50,000 times on Twitter, with most finding fault with the killing and condemning the “patriarchal nature of Iran society in general,” the BBC reported.
Proposed legislation against honor killings has apparently been fruitless among various decision-making bodies in Iran.
However, Ashrafi’s case has led to Iranian President Hassan Rohani to urge his Cabinet to speed up harsher laws against such killings.
There is no official data on how many young girls and women are killed by family members or close relatives because of actions they take that are perceived as violations of Islamic norms on love and marriage.