Tragic murder of a teenage girl in so-called “honour” killing!

Horrific murder further highlights theocratic regime’s failure to address women’s rights!

  • CODIR calls for campaign of protest against the theocratic regime’s criminal indifference to the growing number of horrific killings of women in Iran
  • Official reports highlight that scores of women have been murdered in so-called “honour” killings across Iran each year.
  • Distinct lack of any proper legal safeguard to protect women from misogyny and violence in the country – with girls as young as 9-years-old being married, and widespread unchecked discrimination resulting in an epidemic of violence against women in Iran.

It is with horror that CODIR acknowledges yet another senseless murder underscoring the seemingly rampant misogyny and imperilled situation faced by women and girls in the Islamic Republic of Iran today…

On Saturday 5 February, a video emerged showing a young man carrying the severed head of his 17-year-old wife, Mona Haidari, in one hand and the bloody dagger he had used to behead her in the other, walking barefoot through the streets of his neighbourhood in Ahvaz, Khuzestan, grinning inanely all the while – having supposedly restored his “honour”.

While the full details remain sketchy, it is understood that Ms. Haidari had been forcibly married to the killer, her paternal cousin, at the age of just 12.  She was the mother of a 3-year-old boy.  By all accounts, her treatment at the hands of her husband was abusive and violent throughout the marriage.  Ms. Haidari had only recently returned to Iran, having previously fled her marriage to neighbouring Turkey.  She had been lured back by her father with assurances that she would be safe and face no repercussions once back home.  However, just a few days later, she was dragged by her husband out of the vehicle in which she was travelling with her family.  This was the last time she was seen before the emergence of the horrific video clip over a week ago.  Her husband and his brother were arrested and detained by the police around four hours after the video was taken.

Initial indications point towards this incident being the latest prominent case of a so-called “honour” killing in Iran – and it has brought about shock and widespread revulsion in public opinion throughout the country, renewing the urgent debate about violence against women and the lack of any meaningful legal safeguard to protect them…

While misogyny, including domestic violence, has long been a significant problem in Iran along with other countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region; the specific issue of “honour” killings in Iran has tended to be seen as confined to areas which are more socially conservative and where tribal and clan-based rites and customs traditionally hold greater sway – particularly, though by no means exclusively, the provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan, Khuzestan, and Kordestan.

However, the problem has become significantly worse under the Islamic Republic and it is undoubtedly the case that regressive patriarchal laws, underpinned by Sharia, and their application by state authorities, have only served to feed this backwards trend.  Furthermore, there exists a strong positive correlation between a given locale’s rate of “honour” killings and its level of deprivation, economic and social.  Accordingly, the provinces within Iran with the highest rates of this phenomenon also have the highest rates of unemployment and poverty.  (However, it cannot be stressed enough that the vast majority of destitute Iranians are as vehement in their rejection of “honour” killings as the rest of society.)  These two factors, along with the deliberate and systematic weakening of civil society and secular institutions and structures – that has become a hallmark of the Islamic Republic’s rule – combine to effect a vicious cycle in which this trend thrives.  Put simply; for as long as the state authorities continue to omit to enter into, or properly regulate, these domains – or, worse still, encourage and attach sanctity to these practices – they will continue unchecked.

While the latest reports suggest that the husband and brother-in-law of Ms. Haidari are set to receive severe sentences, in what would undoubtedly be a cynical act of political expediency by the Islamic Republic regime, CODIR concurs with the widely held view that the theocratic dictatorship cannot thereby absolve itself of its joint culpability for her murder. 

CODIR demands that the Islamic Republic of Iran immediately move to bring about comprehensive and positive legal reforms befitting of a modern nation state, followed by their proper implementation.  These should include the raising of the age of consent and marriage, as well as the proper drafting and enactment of robust legislation to afford protection to women and girls from misogyny and molestation – including harassment, violence, and forced marriage.  Such laws should meet internationally-observed norms and standards, be accorded precedence over any other conflicting legal source (whether religious, tribal, or otherwise), and be rigorously enforced and upheld by the relevant mandated state authorities.  We encourage our supporters, particularly all those active in the international campaign for women’s rights, to join us in expressing these demands via letters of protest to the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Please copy us in.

For as long as the Islamic Republic dictatorship omits to act, it continues to amply demonstrate how completely out of synch it is with the values of the vast majority of the Iranian people, and thus how thoroughly unfit it is to rule over them.

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