Iran: Why did 12-year-old Rahil have to die? Brother claims “honor” as motive, but villagers don’t believe him.

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Born: 2010
Killed: February 2, 2023
Residence: Serkhon, Hormozgan, Iran
Children: none
Perpetrator: her brother Mohammed (19 years)
On February 2, 12-year-old Rahil from the village of Serkhon in Hormozgan province in Iran was awakened around 10:30 in the night by her 19-year-old brother Mohammed and taken out on a motorcycle to supposedly visit a sewing store. After they were about 6 kilometers from the village, Mohammed cut off her head with a machete and wrapped the body in a blanket and left it in the surrounding desert.

After the murder, when he returned to the village he tried to commit suicide by cutting his wrist. Villagers found him unconscious and bloodied the next morning. There were drugs, alcohol and cigarettes lying next to his motorcycle. Mohammed was taken to the hospital by relatives and when they asked him about Rahil, he said "God bless Rahil."

Rahil's body was found in mid-February. Her brother was arrested and he confessed to the murder. He cited "honor" as a motive and said villagers spoke ill of Rahil. Villagers do not believe him and deny that there were any bad stories circulating about his skinny sister.

It seems that Mohammed thoughtfully killed his sister. It is said that he practiced slaughtering four sheep in the months leading up to the murder. Mohammed was sent to rehab because of his drug addiction. The police investigation is ongoing.

If a 19-year-old brother kills his sister and cites "honor", demons and shame as motives and attempts suicide, it could also be that he sexually abused her and wanted to prevent her from ever testifying about it. Many victims of honor killings have been sexually abused.

What is an honour killing?

An honour killing is a murder in the name of honour. If a brother murders his sister to restore family honour, it is an honour killing. According to activists, the most common reasons for honour killings are as the victim:

Questions about honour killings

  • refuses to cooperate in an arranged marriage.

  • wants to end the relationship.

  • was the victim of rape or sexual assault.

  • was accused of having a sexual relationship outside of marriage.

Human rights activists believe that 100,000 honour killings are carried out every year, most of which are not reported to the authorities and some are even deliberately covered up by the authorities themselves, for example because the perpetrators are good friends with local policemen, officials or politicians. Violence against girls and women remains a serious problem in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Serbia and Turkey.

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