Police had forced 14-year-old Iranian girl Romina Ashrafi to return to her parents' home after she had run away with her partner. Her father, Reza Ashraf, subsequently murdered her with a farming sickle last week. Citizens of Iran rallied together to protest the murder of the young girl. As a result, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani requested his cabinet to expedite the adoption of strict laws against honour killing.

Ashrafi reportedly eloped with her boyfriend, Bahamn Khavari. The 34-year-old man ran off with Ashrafi from their hometown Talesh in northern Iran. Police found the couple five days after they had eloped. Ashrafi expressed that she was not safe in her parental home yet the authorities returned her to her parents' custody.

Last week while Ashrafi slept, her father murdered her with a sickle. After the murder, Ashraf confessed to the murder and surrendered to the police. He told the police that the murder was an "honour killing," which is basically the murder of an individual by their family or relatives for violating conservative norms of love and marriage.

In Iran, a murder is often punished with the death sentence. However, in the case of an honour killing, the punishment is a maximum of 10 years in prison. Girls and women are usually the victims of honour killings by their families. Even though there is very little data on honour killing, news of such murders are frequently seen in local newspapers.

The report of Ashrafi's murder was seen on the front page of newspapers across the country. It led to a social media movement with the #Romina_Ashrafi hashtag trending on Twitter.

Masoumeh Ebtekar, the vice president of Iran for Women and Family Affairs, ordered a special investigation into Ashrafi's murder. She also requested the cabinet to pass relevant bills to ensure that those committing murder under the name of honour killing receive stricter punishment.

I condemned the tragic case of #Rumina in recent Cabinet session & asked that processes for adoption of bill on Violence Against Women be expedited. President Rouhani in a decree gave priority to this bill. Domestic violence is oppression & needs to be addressed effectively. https://t.co/jp385PeYm4

— Massoumeh Ebtekar (@ebtekarm) May 28, 2020

According to Al Jazeera, Rouhani expressed regret over Ashrafi's death. Responding to the nationwide outcry, Rouhani has also asked his cabinet to expedite the passing of bills to protect the nation from the social evil of honour killing. While Iranians do not believe that Ashrafi's death will be the end of honour killings in the country, the new laws will bring justice to the victims.

India honour killing
Honour-killing of 14-year-old could usher new laws. (representational image) Amit Dave/Reuters