Iran has passed a law that makes it illegal to physically abuse or abandon a child.
The law, passed on Monday Jun. 8, comes after Romina Ashrafi, a 14-year-old girl was allegedly beheaded by her father with a farming sickle in a so-called “honor killing” because she had run off with a boyfriend.
Following the outrage over her murder, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s government asked the parliament to expedite passing the bill, which had been stalled in parliament for 11 years.
Under Iran’s Islamic penal code, fathers, unlike mothers, are exempt from capital punishment for murdering their children because fathers are considered guardians. Romina’s father, Reza Ashrafi, faces a jail sentence of up to 10 years if he is found guilty.
The new law criminalizes physical abuse and also sets fines and jail sentences for preventing children from education, harassing them emotionally and forcing them to work, the New York Times reported.
Judiciary and security officials are now also legally obliged to report cases of child abuse and to place children under the protection of social services until investigations are complete; Romina had been returned to her father’s care because her father assured a local investigator that he would not harm her, despite her saying that she feared for her life.
The Times reported that latest draft of the law was not available online, and Iranian legal experts and human rights activists said that while it was a step forward, there were still several shortcomings, as the law does not address child marriages nor juveniles sentenced to death.
Rouhani also urged parliament to expedite a separate bill that would criminalize the emotional, sexual and physical abuse of women, which has been stagnant for eight years.
Nearly two-thirds of women in Iran have experienced domestic violence of some kind from a male relative, according to government statistics.