Husband parades decapitated head of 17-year-old wife in front of crowd in Iran after killing her

·2-min read

A husband paraded the decapitated head of his 17-year-old wife in front of a crowd in Iran after murdering her in a harrowing incident which has triggered outrage.

Sajjad Heydari, who beheaded his teenage wife Mona Heydari, could be seen smiling as he brandished his wife’s severed head and a knife in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz on 5 February.

The ordeal, which was captured on video and shared on social media, has provoked fury in Iran as well as sparking a debate about the prevalence of violence against women and girls in the country.

Yonah Diamond, an international human rights lawyer who focuses on justice issues in Iran among other repressive regimes, told The Independent: "The Iranian authorities enabled the barbaric beheading of Mona Heydari - a child bride - for seeking a divorce from a violently abusive marriage, and bear full responsibility.”

Mr Diamond, who works for the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, added: “This is not an isolated murder in Iran, nor did it happen in a vacuum.

“ It occurred under a legal system and officials targeting women rights defenders, including those who educate women on their rights in marriage like Hoda Amid and Najmeh Vahedi, with harsher sentences - lengthier prison time, lashes, solitary confinement and abuse - than the men who brutally murder their wives or daughters."

Women’s rights are stringently restricted in Iran and wearing a headscarf is compulsory in public for all women there – with those who do not wear a hijab, or have some of their hair on display while wearing a hijab, facing punishments ranging from fines to imprisonment.

Local press reports Ms Heydari was killed by her husband in the wake of a row with him which led her to escape to Turkey.

But according to media, the husband brought the young woman back to Iran where he killed her. Ms Heydari is believed to have a three-year-old son she leaves behind.

The husband has been arrested by Iranian police, reports news agency Rock. Police have reportedly taken a woman’s body from a property.

The killing is reported to be a so-called "honour killing". Honour-based abuse includes forced marriage, which sees girls taken abroad to be married off to strangers, coercive control, female genital mutilation (FGM), assault, threats to kill, attempted murder, and murder.

Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, which is based in New York, said: “The beheaded child bride might be alive today if Iran's government had enacted laws against the cruel practice of child marriage and protections against domestic violence. Iran's government is as responsible for her death as her murderers.”

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