Every passing day brings news of more honor killings and femicide in Iran.
Zilan Aivaz, 15, was shot and killed by her father, Abdusalam, on Friday, July 7, 2023. The honor killing occurred in Ziveh village in Piranshahr County, West Azerbaijan.
Salam Aivaz had reportedly learned of her daughter’s friendship with a young man and decided to take her life.
Under the clerical regime’s misogynous laws, a father owns the blood of his children, and he will not be punished by “retribution” or the death penalty for murdering his children.
According to Article 301 of the Iranian regime’s Islamic Punishment Law, the father or the paternal grandfather who kills their own children are not punished” because they “own” their children’s blood. “Retribution for the murderer, i.e. execution, is applicable only if the murderer is not the father or paternal grandfather of the victim.” (The Islamic Punishment Law adopted in April 2013)
Article 630 of the Punishment Law stipulates that a woman can be instantly murdered if her husband finds her while having sexual relations with another man.
Fresh research says one woman is killed every four days
Because of such misogynous laws that sanction the murder of women by their male relatives, honor killings and femicide have become prevalent in Iran. Fresh research published by the semi-official Sharq Daily on July 5 indicates that one woman is killed every four days in Iran.
According to the research published by Sharq, 165 women have been killed in the past two years. 108 women were killed by their husbands, 17 by brothers, 13 by fathers, and 9 by their own sons. Another 19 women were killed by other male relatives, including their fathers-in-law, brother-in-law, and uncles.
The report says handguns killed 43 women, 40 were stabbed to death, 35 were strangled, tortured, or burned, and 37 were pushed from heights. 41% of these women were killed in Tehran Province.
New figures play down the reality
The recent data published by Sharq downplay the reality. Two years ago, an expert on social ailments wrote that “Iran holds the world record on domestic violence (against women).”
In his article published by Jahanesanat.ir on November 19, 2020, Mohammad Reza Mahboubfar said: “The previous statistics on honor killings in Iran have never been comprehensive, transparent or accurate. The institutions and organizations dealing with these figures, such as the Social Emergencies and the Police, do not have access to the data and no official figures have been announced in this regard. Previous figures showed a maximum number of 450 cases of honor killings in the country every year.”
The report goes on: “In the past, honor killings took place more in provinces with tribal structures, and Khuzestan, Kurdistan, Ilam, and Sistan and Baluchistan had the highest number of these murders. Today, the cultural, legal, political, social, and economic situations are strongly contributing to violence against women. Honor killings are on the rise more than any other time. Honor killings in the country have recently had a meaningful growth compared to the same period last year, and family murders top the country’s crises. It is estimated that at least 8 murders take place in Iran every day.”
“The continuation of this trend could increase the average of 450 honor killings per year to 2,736 cases in 2020,” Mahboubfar added.
Who is responsible for the high rate of honor killings and femicide?
Who is responsible for the high rate of honor killings and femicide in Iran? While knives, sickles, and other weapons are in the hands of a father, brother, husband, or another male relative, it is the misogynistic laws that promote honor killings and femicide.
The misogynistic performance of the ruling judiciary can be easily understood in a few simple comparisons. For example, Romina Ashrafi’s father, who beheaded his 14-year-old daughter with a sickle, was sentenced to 9 years in prison, and he was released after two years.
Ali Bagheri, a lawyer, points to the father’s and paternal grandfather’s legal immunity from retaliation. He says, “There is no correlation between the crime and the amount of punishment imposed on Romina’s father. Romina Ashrafi’s father thought he owned this child and that he could kill her with a sickle. When the judge asked Romina’s father why he did not kill Bahman Khavari, the man with whom Romina had fled, he answered, “If I had killed Bahman Khavari, they would have retaliated against me. But this did not happen with my daughter.”
The lawyer emphasizes, “Judgments are not deterrents, and such cases cause us to witness even more murders of girls. The lack of protective laws makes the offender more likely to re-offend and exposes the victim to double the fear.” (The state-run Ensaf News website – September 11, 2020)
Furthermore, the father of Faezeh Maleknia, who burned his daughter, was acquitted in court. (Dideban-e Iran, May 10, 2022)
The husband of Mona Heydari was not punished for beheading his wife. The judiciary officials said the victim’s parents had not asked for retribution. (The state-run khabaronline.ir – May 24, 2022)
But Massoumeh Sanobari was sentenced to 8 years in prison for her political activities, and Ms. Salbi Marandi, 80, spent 7 months in Khoy prison after enduring 70 lashes for protesting her son’s murder.
Indeed, if anyone is to be punished, it is the government that transforms misogyny into the dominant, official culture and that perpetuates violence against women by humiliating women on a daily basis.
In a structure like the one in Iran, even if the killer is punished, a state assassination adds to the regime’s crimes and spreads the killing. However, the context and form of the issue remain, and the men of this intellectual apparatus are increasingly driven to brutal behavior.