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Honor Killings In Iran: Parents Suffocate "Child Bride" Daughter

A 15-year-old girl is murdered by her parents in Iran, three years after her arranged marriage, in yet another possible "honor" killing the Islamic Republic is loath to punish.

Photo of a girl hiding her face in front of a mosque in Mehran, Iran

In Mehran, Iran

The Persian-language daily Etemaad has reported this week another murder of a young woman in Iran, which stands out for its shocking details in the context of the Iranian plague of so-called "honor killings."

A 15-year-old girl was killed by her parents, just outside the northwestern town of Khoy near the borders of Turkey and Azerbaijan. The parents have reportedly admitted to suffocating their daughter, named as Raheleh, with a pillow before tying a scarf around her neck, throwing her body in a garden shed and calling neighbors to report her death as a suicide, the newspaper reported Sunday.

Neighbors told the daily that Raheleh's older sister had previously tried to kill herself.

The gruesome case was another case of both femicide and filicide in Iran, and of underage marriage, a phenomenon that appears to be both prevalent and increasingly approved by Iran's government authorities.

Two sisters

According to Etemaad, Raheleh had been married off aged 12 to a man in his 20s, and moved to live with him in the city of Orumieh. Days before her death, which was reported to be July 12, she had returned to her parents' home without her husband.

Police investigating the death immediately doubted the parents' version of events upon arriving at the house. They were arrested and ultimately confessed to their acts, the daily reports. The father was described as having a drug addiction.

There has not been a firm response from the judiciary or legislature of the Islamic Republic..

The paper cited an unnamed resident of the locality as saying that the couple previously married off Raheleh's older sister, Hanieh, also when she was just 12. She soon separated from her husband, Etemaad reported that a neighbor recounting: "that led them to marry her to a foreign national in a neighboring country. But when Hanieh realized her husband wanted to sell her, she returned to their village. That's when she decided to commit suicide, and jumped off a building." The sister survived, and was believed to be in Tehran now, "though nobody knows anything about her."

Family "honor"

There are few reliable statistics in Iran on femicides, though they often occur in relation with the 'honor' of conservative and/or poorer families. As a phenomenon, honor killings are broadly rejected by society. Still, there has not been a firm response from the judiciary or legislature of the Islamic Republic.

Reasons for killing a wife or daughter typically include the refusal to marry a man chosen by the family, wanting to end a marriage, fleeing violence at home, or beginning any type of interaction with a man that is not a close relative.

Separately the country registered just under 27,500 underage marriages involving girls aged less than 15 years in 2022, with a spike in numbers in the second half of the year also of marriages of teen girls, 15 to 19 years of age.

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For Seniors, Friendship May Be More Important Than Family

Even if the aging and elderly tend to wind up confined to family circles, Argentine academics Laura Belli and Danila Suárez explore the often untapped benefits of friendship in our later years.

Photograph of two elderly women and an elderly man walking arm in arm. Behind the, there are adverts for famous football players.

Two elderly women and a man walk arm in arm

Philippe Leone/Unsplash
Laura F. Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé

Updated Dec. 10, 2023 at 10:10 p.m.

BUENOS AIRES — What kind of friendship do people most talk about? Most often it is childhood or teenage friendships, while friendships between men and women are repeatedly analyzed. What about friendships among the elderly? How are they affected when friends disappear, at a stage when grieving is already more frequent?

Argentines Laura Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé, two friends with PhDs in philosophy, explore the challenges and benefits of friendship in their book Filosofía de la amistad (Friendship Philosophy).

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They consider how friendships can emerge later in life, in profoundly altered circumstances from those of our youth, with people living through events like retirement, widowhood, reduced autonomy or to a greater or lesser degree, personal deterioration. All these can affect older people's ability to form and keep friendships, even if changes happen at any stage in life.

Filosofía de la amistadexplores the place of friendships amid daunting changes. These are not just the result of ageing itself but also of how one is perceived, nor will they affect everyone exactly the same way. Aging has firstly become a far more diverse experience, with increasing lifespans and better healthcare everywhere, and despite an inevitable restriction in life opportunities, a good many seniors enjoy far greater freedom and life choices than before.

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