Top Iran body denies negligence in teenage girl’s killing

According to Iranian media, Romina Ashrafi was killed in her sleep on May 21 by her father, who decapitated her in the family home in Talesh in northern Gilan province. (Screenshot)
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Updated 30 May 2020

Top Iran body denies negligence in teenage girl’s killing

  • Last week’s apparent “honor” killing of Romina Ashrafi, 14, sparked outrage across Iran, with media denouncing “institutionalized violence” in the “patriarchal” Islamic republic
  • According to Iranian media, Romina Ashrafi was killed in her sleep on May 21 by her father, who decapitated her in the family home in Talesh in northern Gilan province

TEHRAN: Iran’s Guardian Council denied Saturday that the killing of a teenage girl by her father was the result of “negligence” due to a delay in its approval of a new child protection law.
Last week’s apparent “honor” killing of Romina Ashrafi, 14, sparked outrage across Iran, with media denouncing “institutionalized violence” in the “patriarchal” Islamic republic.
After her death, Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar deplored a delay in the validation by the 12-member Guardian Council of a bill on the protection of children and teenagers.
Ebtekar said the bill was in the “final phase” of approval by the council and urged the top body, which is tasked with ensuring legislation complies with the constitution and Islamic sharia law, to pass it quickly.
The council has previously called three times for changes to the draft law after it was passed by lawmakers, the reformist Ebtekar newspaper wrote on Wednesday.
The daily said it was concerned that another delay would spell the bill’s demise, particularly since Iran’s new parliament is dominated by conservatives and hard-liners.
“There has been no negligence on the part of the council... concerning the approval of a draft law on the rights of children,” Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaee said Saturday.
“And I don’t see any link between this bill and the fact that this abominable crime took place,” he told a news conference.
According to Iranian media, Romina Ashrafi was killed in her sleep on May 21 by her father, who decapitated her in the family home in Talesh in northern Gilan province.
The reports said she ran away after her father refused her permission to marry a man 15 years older, but was detained and taken home.
The legal age to marry in Iran is 13 for women.
Kadkhodaee said the council had indicated to parliament that it had some “objections” concerning the text of the bill and that lawmakers could have met in an emergency session to further discuss the draft law.
But he added: “One law alone cannot resolve such problems (apparent ‘honor’ crimes) which have a cultural, social and even economic dimension.”
Iranian media reported that after authorities detained the teenager, she told a judge she feared for her life if she was sent home.
But what most outraged public opinion was that the girl’s father was likely to face a lenient punishment of just three to 10 years in prison, which could be further reduced, according to the Ebtekar newspaper.


Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia return to talks over disputed dam

Updated 03 August 2020

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia return to talks over disputed dam

  • Khartoum and Cairo have repeatedly rejected the filling of the massive reservoir
  • Ethiopia says the dam will provide electricity to millions

CAIRO: Three key Nile basin countries on Monday resumed their negotiations to resolve a years-long dispute over the operation and filling of a giant hydroelectric dam that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, officials said.
The talks came a day after tens of thousands of Ethiopians flooded the streets of their capital, Addis Ababa, in a government-backed rally to celebrate the first stage of the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s 74 billion-cubic-meter reservoir.
Ethiopia’s announcement sparked fear and confusion downstream in Sudan and Egypt. Both Khartoum and Cairo have repeatedly rejected the filling of the massive reservoir without reaching a deal among the Nile basin countries.
Ethiopia says the dam will provide electricity to millions of its nearly 110 million citizens, help bring them out of poverty and also make the country a major power exporter.
Egypt, which depends on the Nile River to supply its booming population of 100 million people with fresh water, asserts the dam poses an existential threat.
Sudan, between the two countries, says the project could endanger its own dams — though it stands to benefit from the Ethiopian dam, including having access to cheap electricity and reduced flooding. The confluence of the Blue Nile and the White Nile near Khartoum forms the Nile River that then flows the length of Egypt and into the Mediterranean Sea.
Irrigation ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia took part in Monday’s talks, which were held online amid the coronavirus pandemic. The virtual meeting was also attended by officials from the African Union and South Africa, the current chairman of the regional block, said Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasir Abbas. Officials from the US and the European Union were also in attendance, said Egypt’s irrigation ministry.
Technical and legal experts from the three countries would resume their negotiations based on reports presented by the AU and the three capitals following their talks in July, Abbas said. The three ministers would meet online again on Thursday, he added.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attributed the reservoir’s filling to the torrential rains flooding the Blue Nile — something that occurred naturally, “without bothering or hurting anyone else.”
However, Egypt’s Irrigation Minister Mohammed Abdel-Atty said the filling, without “consultations and coordination” with downstream countries, sent “negative indications that show Ethiopian unwillingness to reach a fair deal.”
Ethiopia’s irrigation ministry posted on its Facebook page that it would work to achieve a “fair and reasonable” use of the Blue Nile water.
Key sticking points remain, including how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the countries will resolve any future disputes. Egypt and Sudan have pushed for a binding agreement, which Ethiopia rejects and insists on non-binding guidelines.