Iran passes child protection bill after gruesome so-called 'honour killing' of teenage girl

Iran passes child protection bill after gruesome so-called 'honour killing' of teenage girl
The vague 'child protection bill' was stagnant for years before it was passed by Iran's top body on Sunday.
2 min read
08 June, 2020
The killing of Romina Ashrafi, 14, reignited a public debate about the bill [Getty]
The Iranian Guardian Council has approved a bill to protect minors, after the law's delay was blamed for the murder of an teenage girl last month by a family member.

"In the Guardian Council's view, the bill to support children and teenagers does not contradict to religious law and the constitution and was approved by the council," the 12-member council spokesperson Abassali Kadkhodaei said on Sunday, according to Tehran Times.

The law, which was passed by Iran's Majlis (Parliament), initially failed to become law after being blocked by the council – tasked with ensuring legislation complies with Iran's constitution and Islamic sharia law.

Under the new legislation, authorities can intevene in cases of child abuse, while parents and legal guardians can be held accountable for 'neglect of responsibilities' in education, as well as physical, mental and 'moral' harms. 

Such violations can reportedly be penalised with imprisonment.

The full contents of the passed law after amendments are yet to be disclosed.

Online harassment of children and minors below the age of 18, as well as the sale of tobacco to both groups are considered punishable crimes under the law.

The news comes after the killing of Romina Ashrafi, 14, at the hands of her father sparked outrage across Iran, with media denouncing "institutionalised violence" in the country.

Local media reports said Ashrafi was killed in her sleep on 21 May by her father, after running away from home. Her father allegedly decapitated her in the family home in Talesh after she was detained and taken back home.

The Guardian Council was  blamed for delaying the approval of the bill, which critics said could have 'prevented the death'.

"A 14-year-old girl in Iran beheaded by own father after he first confirmed with a lawyer that under Iranian law he'd get off lightly. Thirty percent of murders in Iran are 'honour' killings of women," International lawyer and human rights activist, Hillel Neuer, said on twitter.

The Iranian top body responded by denying negligance and implying that honour killings would not be prevented by the law.

"A single law cannot solve problems of this kind, which has cultural, social and sometimes economic roots," Kadkhodaei previously said in comments late May.

The public outrage prompted Iranian Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar to urge the top body to pass it quickly.

According to local media, an article of the law passed additionally includes setting up children's rights offices to work on case reports and monitor law enforcement regarding crimes committed against minors.

Gasia Ohanes is a journalist with The New Arab.

Follow her on Twitter: @GasiaOhanes