Beheading Of 17-Year-Old In "Honor Killing" Shocks Iran

A 17-year old was killed by her husband on February 5, in yet another case of honor killing in Iran. Mona Heydari was beheaded by her husband after being brought back from Turkey. In southwestern Iran, the incident took place in Khuzestan’s capital, Ahvaz.

Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and activist, posted a picture on Twitter of Heydari. According to Alinejad, Heydari was a victim of forced child marriage to her cousin at age 12 and already had a 3-year old son at age 17. “This is how living under sharia laws looks like in Iran,” Alinejad added.

According to the local news outlet, Heydari escaped her husband’s harassment and abuse by fleeing to Turkey. She was eventually brought back to Iran by her husband with the help of her father. After the beheading, the husband paraded around Kasaei Square with her head. He looked unperturbed as he dispassionately posed for a photo while holding his wife’s severed head in one hand and a large knife in the other. Meanwhile, the brother wrapped her headless body in a blanket and “threw it in another area.”

The husband eventually escaped the area after people began taking more pictures and videos of him. The video that showed the man holding his wife’s head was broadcast by the Rokna News Agency and was immediately taken down after media watchdogs and activists flagged the footage.

After getting notified about the incident, police immediately began a search operation and arrested the men a few hours later. According to the police investigation, the man killed his wife due to alleged “family problems” and that his brother helped him with the murder.

According to IranTrue, an independent rights group, the IRGC’s (The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) media outlets broadcasted victim-blaming propaganda. The media network controlled by the IRGC is “blaming the victim's wife for having provocative photos.”

The incident has sparked outrage and a call for Iran to put more laws protecting women’s rights. Abbas Hosseini-Pouya, Ahvaz’s Prosecutor General, announced that both perpetrators had been arrested and that they would be charged with the murder and the displaying of the severed head. Action would also be taken against those who had caught the incident on film, “possibly to post on social media.”

Abbas Abdi, a journalist in Iran, attacked conservative news outlets for ignoring the incident. He accused them of being “silent about it because they traditionally believe such behavior can prevent sexually related transgressions.” Their silence “means relative confinement of this horrible incident,” he added.

According to Sharia, only immediate family members of the victim can demand the execution of the perpetrator. In honor killings, the perpetrator is usually another family member whom the family doesn't seek to heavily punish, if at all. In a 2020 report from The Lancet, there were 8,000 reported honor killings in Iran between the years 2010- 2014. The report also stated that incidents have increased during the recent lockdowns due to the pandemic.

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