On Human Rights Day, it’s crucial to address the systematic violation of the rights of women in Iran. Among the most pervasive human rights abuses in the country is the systematic violation of the rights of women and girls. This disturbing trend is increasingly evident in the form of appalling acts such as honor killings and femicide.
Hardly a day passes without the media reporting one or more femicides. Despite this, the mullahs’ regime maintains a lack of transparency regarding statistics on violence against women, particularly concerning domestic violence, honor killings, and femicide. Authorities such as forensic medicine and welfare organizations are restricted from disclosing their documented data.
Many of these tragic incidents are resolved within families and go unreported. Therefore, the reports and statistics provided by the media or official sources represent only the tip of the iceberg of violence against women and the systematic violation of the rights of women in Iran. They merely scratch the surface of this deeply concerning problem.
The tip of the iceberg of the systematic violation of the rights of women in Iran
Reports from state media have revealed alarming statistics: between June 2021 and June 2023, at least 165 women in Iran were killed by male family members, with 41 of these cases occurring in Tehran. (The state-run Sharq newspaper – June 25, 2023)
Another media outlet noted a distressing trend, indicating that the frequency of femicide in Iran has escalated dramatically. What used to be one murder every four days over two years has surged to one every other day in just two weeks within a month in 2023. (The state-run Etemad daily, October 7, 2023)
Another source reported that from March to September 2023, at least 52 femicides were recorded in Iran, with 29% of these occurring in Tehran. (Hengaw website, September 25, 2023)
However, the NCRI Women’s Committee has gathered information from media reports documenting 132 cases of honor killings and femicides since January 2023. These figures surpass the statistics reported by both governmental and non-governmental sources. The compiled data specifically includes 85 cases of femicide and 47 cases of honor killings.
10% of the world’s honor killings occur in Iran
In Iran, women bear the brunt of family murders and honor killings. Within family crimes, honor killings – the murder of a sister, wife, child, or mother – hold a significant place.
The misogynistic laws under the mullahs’ regime sanction the killing of women by male relatives, contributing to a disturbing rise in honor killings and femicides in Iran. These tragic acts are more prevalent now than ever before due to these laws that allow such violence against women to persist.
Article 1105 of the clerical regime’s civil code considers the man – exclusively – to be the head of the family. Article 1108 emphasizes that if a woman refuses to perform her “duties” toward her husband, she will not receive alimony. Article 1114 of the civil code stipulates that a woman must live in a house designated by her husband. According to the same law, to file for divorce, a woman must be able to prove that living with that man is life-threatening, while the testimony of two women is equivalent to that of a man. In many cases, a woman who has been beaten or stabbed is forced to return to live with the same perpetrator, even after complaining to legal authorities.
According to a government newspaper, family violence ranks highest among social emergency referrals in Iran. Around 20% of all murders in the country are honor killings, while 40% are family-related. Statistics indicate a significant increase in honor killings in the western provinces during 2021, with continued growth in 2023. “The alarming rate, accounting for approximately 10% of global honor killings occurring in Iran, serves as a warning.” (The state-run Sharq newspaper, June 25, 2023)
However, this government newspaper’s investigative report seems to downplay the actual situation in Iranian society under the mullahs’ rule. Mohammad Reza Mahboubfar, a sociologist, previously stated that past statistics revealed up to 450 honor killings annually in the country. (The state-run Jahanesanat.ir newspaper, November 19, 2020) He further warned that if the current trend persisted, the number of honor killings could surge from 450 cases per year to 2736 cases in 2020, portraying a disturbing escalation.
Honor killings and femicides are not criminalized in Iran
Under the mullahs’ regime, there is no specific criminalization of honor killings and femicides. This lack of legal framework results in inadequate punishment for those responsible for such heinous crimes against women.
Article 29 of Chapter 4 in the new bill, entitled “Preventing Injury of Women and Improving Their Security Against Misbehavior,” specifies penalties for intentional murder. If the murder lacks retribution and premeditation, it incurs a third-degree imprisonment of 10 to 15 years, and otherwise, a fourth-degree imprisonment of 5 to 10 years. This contrasts starkly with the regime’s law, where the punishment for murder is death and every year, several women are sent to the gallows for murdering their husbands in self-defense against domestic violence.
The headline from a state-run website starkly reveals the bitter reality. “Eight years in prison for cutting off a wife’s head, 10 years for removing a scarf!” (The state-run Etemadonline.ir, January 19, 2023)
In a chilling case, the husband of Mona Heydari, a 17-year-old woman from Ahvaz, received an eight-year prison sentence for beheading her and parading in the streets with the chopped-off head. Shockingly, this penalty is less severe than the 10-year imprisonment mandated for removing a headscarf. It highlights the tragic fate of individuals like Zhina (Mahsa) Amini and Armita Geravand, who faced lethal consequences for resisting the Guidance Patrols.
The mullahs’ patriarchal and misogynistic regime, governed by inhumane laws, fosters and perpetuates such crimes. Honor killings and femicides have evolved into systematic violence, enchaining Iranian women and girls within their homes, schools, streets, and society at large. Even within the supposed safety of their homes, Iranian women and girls are not shielded from danger.
On this Human Rights Day, we honor the courageous women and girls of Iran who bravely confront violence, inequality, and the systematic violation of the rights of women in Iran with the rallying cry of “Women, Resistance, Freedom.” They steadfastly believe that toppling the misogynistic clerics is the only path to achieving their goals and are resolute in pursuing this objective, no matter the cost.