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Iranian Father's Light Sentence For Honor Killing Rekindles Controversy Over Islamic Penal Code 


Romina Ashrafi's grave

The sentencing of a father for beheading his fourteen -year-old daughter with a sickle while she was asleep for eloping with a much older man in May has rekindled conversations about the Islamic Penal Code on social media.

In an interview with the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) on Friday, Rana Dashti, the victim's mother, said she has been informed of her husband Reza Ashrafi’s nine-year prison sentence, as well as the two-year sentence of the man her daughter had eloped with.

Dashti also told ILNA that the court verdict has "terrified" her and her own family, claiming that her husband's family has repeatedly threatened to take away the custody of her young son.

According to the Islamic Penal Code the custody of a boy is given to the paternal grandfather, or paternal uncle, if the father is dead or absent.

"I am going to contest this sentence and want the case to go to the Supreme Court," she said.

The teenage girl, Romina Ashrafi, was murdered by her father as an act of "honor killing" in May in northern Iran’s rural Talesh county. Her father was detained after widespread reaction to the tragedy across the country and on social media.

Although Iran's Chief Justice Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi promised "a punishment to set an example,” it was clear from the start of the case that the father would not be sentenced to death, as opposed to non-family murder cases.

Article 220 of Iran's Islamic Penal Code stipulates that fathers and grandfathers cannot be sentenced to death for killing a child or grandchild.

Before her tragic death, Romina Ashrafi had fallen in love with a man in her hometown, and after her father vehemently opposed their marriage, the couple eloped. The two were detained after their families filed complaints with the police, and a court handed Romina over to her father despite her pleas not to send her home, during which she warned that her father was a temperamental person and her life was in danger.

According to some media reports, Reza Ashrafi sought legal advice before he killed his daughter, and knew that his maximum sentence could only be ten years in prison.

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