The murder of a girl by her father, allegedly for laughing with a boy at a park, has once again highlighted lack of laws to prevent ‘honor-killings’ in Iran.
The father of sixteen-year-old Ariana Lashkari shot her in the chest with a hunting rifle on Monday in Nourabad-e Mamasani, a small town in Fars Province. The young girl had fled to her paternal grandmother’s home after an argument with her father, Mohammad-Kazem Lashkari, over her behavior which her father considered as a disgrace to the family.
Ariana’s father said after his arrest that he had only meant to scare his daughter and killed her in a moment of rage.
Iran's Islamic Penal Code stipulates that fathers and paternal grandfathers cannot be sentenced to death for killing a child or grandchild. In such cases the perpetrator may be sentenced to prison and payment of blood money to the next of kin, that is the mother, if demanded. Mothers can also completely forgive the murderer and forego the blood money.
In murder cases, the judge has the power to hand out additional sentences "on behalf of the public" if the crime is particularly violent or harms society in some way.
Perpetrators of honor killings are often not brought to justice as most families do not demand harsh punishment for them, particularly if the perpetrator is the victim’s father.
Honor killings are prevalent in some parts of Iran mostly due to societal beliefs and the Islamic Republic’s lax laws and light sentences that encourage the behavior.
The head of Reyhaneh Women’s NGO said in January that about 60 women had fallen victim to honor killings in Iran in the preceding two years including some as young as ten years old.
Former President Hassan Rouhani’s administration in January 2021 passed a bill intended to help protect women against domestic and other forms of gender-based violence but the parliament which is dominated by hardliners has so far shelved the bill.
The bill was proposed a few months after thirteen-year-old Romina Ashrafi was beheaded by her father Reza Ashrafi in northern Iran for eloping with an older man.
Romina and her lover were detained after her family filed complaints with the police, and a court handed her back to her father despite her pleas not to send her home because she said her father was a temperamental and would kill her for her disobedience.
Iranian media said before killing his daughter, Romina’s father had investigated the legal punishment before committing the crime and killed his daughter knowing that the maximum sentence for killing one's child was ten years in prison.
In February, a young man beheaded his 17-year-old wife, Mona Heydari, with the help of his brother and displayed the head around the streets in the southwestern city of Ahvaz when the young wife was brought back from Turkey. Mona who had traveled to Turkey to get away from her family had been persuaded by her own father, her husband’s uncle, to return to Iran.
Iran is one of the four countries that have not joined the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.