Khoon bas brides, the oppressed victims of a fate all black with pain and suffering
The cease blood tradition (Khoon bas) is in fact a kind of nomadic ransom for resolving individual disputes and tribal wars, according to which in the event of murder, desecration, assault and any deviation and deviance of the inhabitants, the elders of the tribes intervene and sacrifice innocent women and girls to end the conflict between the men of the tribes.
This custom means that to end a bloody quarrel between two tribes, a woman from the killer tribe is given to the slain tribe, which the Arabs call a “faslieh” woman, and in other tribes it is called a “Khoon bas”. Girls who find themselves in this situation and marry in this way are in fact victims of the mistakes of the men of the tribe.
Since mid-summer 2002, there has been a proposal to register this backward misogynistic tradition as a “valuable cultural heritage” among regime officials and the media.
The registration of the cease blood tradition (khoon bas) has been discussed in the regime’s cultural heritage organization since 2010, and the provincial authorities of Lorestan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Fars, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad tried to register it until 2012. At the time, the registration of such a tradition was opposed by UNESCO, and the Cultural Heritage Organization was discouraged from accepting it.
In 2019, the request to register the misogynistic cease blood tradition (khoon bas) was repeated for the fifth time, this time by the Justice Department of the city of Shush in Khuzestan.
Sadeq Jafari Chegeni, head of the Justice Department of Shush, posted an announcement on the social media, in which he declared that “he requested the registration of two prominent social traditions ‘Fasl’ and ‘khoon bas’ as a spiritual heritage in March 2020 and urges the public and intellectuals to help collect documents for it.”
According to this so-called judicial official, “the Justice Department of Shush has established a special branch and has used the social capacities and elders of this city to succeed in resolving heavy cases. About 15 cases have been settled through peace and reconciliation over the past year or two, which had lasted more than 20 years. By registering the cease blood tradition (khoon bas), we are ready to use this tradition in the development of justice.”
Chegeni admits: “The reason for rejecting the request of other provinces was that they highlighted the issue of marrying a woman to cease the bloodshed. It is a narrow view of the issue if we want to consider it as a human rights subject.”
The Deputy Minister of Cultural Heritage Organization of Khuzestan Province, Ahmad Reza Hosseini Boroujeni, however, clarified in this regard: One of the conditions for registering this tradition is that it should be made dynamic and lasting after it is registered. So, reports on this dynamism must be submitted to those who registered it. The cease blood tradition (khoon bas) common among the Arab, Bakhtiari and Lor tribes means that marriage is performed between that tribe in return for the murder that had taken place. By registering this custom, we are actually legitimizing something and in a way legalizing and promoting it.” (The state-run hamshahrionline.ir – August 17, 2020)
Cease blood tradition is a gross violation of the rights of women and girls
Puneh Pielram, former head of the Ahvaz Governor’s Women’s Commission, said in this regard, “On the Cease blood tradition (Khoon bas), the sinner is not punished; in many villages, women are subject to rootless traditions. The Khoon bas tradition has been related to pre-Islamic times. Other tribes and nomads now follow the general rules”.
Pielram who has interviewed more than 60 women on Khoon bas describes this tradition as cruelty and injustice. “In Khuzestan, in some cases, three or four women were given under the Khoon bas at the same time,” she said.
Atefeh Bervayeh also described Khoon bas as a hated and cruel innovation and added, “The highest level of violence against women includes Khoon bas and honor killings. The registration of the Khoon bas is not only a reproduction of violence against women, but also its confirmation. Because if you formalize the highest level of violence against women and give it a positive face, it will definitely lead to its reproduction.” (The state-run ILNA news agency – August 19, 2020).
Two repulsive comments
Amid the uproar of several government officials and the protests of women’s and children’s rights defenders, the words of a female member of parliament are thought-provoking.
Elham Azad Ghabel, who does not even respect her own gender, calls Khoon bas a symbol of peace. “The cease blood tradition has been a symbol of peace. This tradition should not be described as a negative act,” she said (The state-run Khaneh Mellat website- August 31, 2020).
In a clear green light, Ali Khamenei, the regime’s supreme leader, also called for the sacrifice of women and girls. “If someone decides to settle a dispute by giving a girl from one tribe to another, it would be against the Shari’a without the permission of the girl herself. Of course, once they get permission from the girl herself, there is no problem… This is permissible.” (The state-run Didarnews website- September 3, 2020).
Khuzestani girl, 11, victim of the cease blood tradition
Since late September 2020, there have been reports of the forced marriage of an 11-year-old girl to end a family dispute in the state media. At the age of eleven, she is to be the victim of a family dispute in which she has no role. However, she is forced to bear the burden of the punishment for the rest of her life. This young girl will probably marry a 35-year-old married man.
According to these reports, the brother of this child from the tribe called Saedis falls in love with a girl from the Hayader tribe. Both tribes are Arabs living in Ahvaz. The boy goes courting and marries the girl he loves.
The girl’s cousins embrace another misogynistic tradition called Nahwa. According to the Nahwa tradition, a cousin must marry her cousin. Three days after the marriage, they declare that this girl is our right and she has no right to marry anyone else! However, even according to this tradition, such a claim must be made before marriage.
Anyway, the cousins, one of whom the locals say is the bride’s ex-husband, get stuck and start making threats. They even opened fire on the groom’s door. To prevent the murder, the cousins were offered large sums of money by the groom’s family, but they refused. Only one bet was placed. The groom’s 11-year-old sister become bride of cousin’s house as a cease blood (khoon bas) bride.
Meanwhile, local and provincial officials remained silent, reacting to violations of the country’s laws on marriage, children’s rights, and even the safety of the groom’s family by opening fire on their door.
“The agencies that should have been involved in this incident did not take action,” said Atefeh Bervayeh. “We hoped that the prosecutor’s office would intervene, but it did not. At that time, the post of deputy governor for women’s affairs was vacant.”
She continues: “This child has been suffering from anxiety for 2 months, and she is constantly worried about when she will be separated from her family and taken to the husband’s family as a cease blood (khoon bas) bride?”
“Our question is why they have not yet referred to the families to follow up,” she said. “So, what is the duty of the social emergency and the prosecutor’s office in such cases? One of our suggestions was for the police to get involved in this matter and deal with the culprits because they put pressure on the girl’s family and shot at their door, and also because they want to take the girl by force. This is a clear violation of the rights of the child.” (The state-run Rouydad-24 website – October 16, 2020)
She had previously said in this regard, “There are 3 cases in this story where women’s rights have been violated. One is the issue of Nahwa costum, which means that the girl’s cousins tell her suitors that she can only marry them. In this case, the girl must either marry a cousin or be left alone for the rest of her life. If she marries another person, the groom’s life will be endangered, which is an injustice to the woman’s rights. The cease blood tradition (khoon bas) and becoming a child bride are other harms that must be considered in this case, and all of these cases are to be criticized.” (The state-run Rouydad-24 website – September 8, 2020)
Cease blood tradition from the perspective of the regime’s misogynist laws and law enforcement agencies
Manijeh Mohammadi, a lawyer and children’s rights activist, says that one of the reasons why Khoon bas is not obsolete is the silence of the law. “The government and the law have never directly intervened in opposition to this misogynist tradition and have tolerated this phenomenon,” she said.
Mohammadi emphasizes that “in Khoon bas, peace and compromise are based on sacrificing a third party therefore, it bears no sign of justice rather, it makes an innocent third party a victim forever. This act has no rational basis and is not prescribed by the Shari’a. In Khoon bas, the principle of personal punishment is ignored.”
In the Khoon bas, no specific age is defined for the bride. According to what has been reported in the media so far, brides are often reconciled between the ages of 11 and 16. The mullahs’ civil law allows the marriage of a 13-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy. A girl under the age of 13 can also be forced into marriage with the permission of the guardian and at the discretion of the court.
Not only government laws, but even the law on the protection of children and adolescents adopted in 2020, has remained silent about these brides.
The fact is that Khoon bas does not in any way contradict the regime’s misogynist laws and is not illegal.
Victims of a black fate with pain and suffering
This misogynistic tradition brings a chain of all kinds of violence to the victim. The cease blood tradition begins with forcible marriage and continues with all kinds of mistreatment of the girl until the end of her life.
It is clear that a forced marriage that takes place in the event of a murder between two families can only result in ill-treatment to the Khoon bas bride. She will be imprisoned in exchange for the crime, without the right to visit her family. She is starved and humiliated. A kind of slavery in the plaintiff’s house that makes her the subject of all kinds of revenge.
This is a bride who has no control over her personal life. She has no social status and is considered a servant of the victim’s family for the rest of her life.
The Khoon bas bride is without dowry at the time of marriage and has no financial rights. She is not allowed to return to her father’s house even after her husband dies.
She must spend the rest of her life as a servant in her husband’s house. She is part of the property of her husband’s family. She must be punished for another sin and remain silent in the face of the oppression that is inflicted on her. This is because she is not supported by anyone, not her own family, not her husband’s family, not the law and state institutions.
Most of these women suffer from deadly neurological diseases to the point that they commit suicide before having children.
Many run away from home or commit crimes themselves that have even worse consequences in the absence of a fair trial. They are the innocent victims of a dark destiny.
The statistics of women victims of the Khoon bas are never announced or published by the regime.