Femicides are under-reported and kept secret for a variety of reasons. Based on the analysis of 191 documented femicide cases in 2022, this report identifies the following patterns:
- FEMICIDES ARE PREVALENT, YET UNDER-REPORTED
- The 191 documented femicide cases in 2022 are equivalent to approximately one killing every other day at an average of 16 cases per month.
- Compared to 2021, the number of documented femicide cases increased by 17%. This may be the result of a higher tendency in the society to report cases and an increased rate of femicides implicating the Iranian Government.
- YOUNG WOMEN ARE LOSING THEIR LIVES AND THEIR NAMES
- The victims of femicide are predominantly young women between the ages of 20 and 35.
- In nearly 60% of the cases, the victims’ names are not publicly known. This may be part of a strategy to either protect the affected families from societal repercussions or bury the identity of the victims.
- Child marriage puts women and girls at risk of femicide. For instance, in February 2022, a man decapitated his 17-year-old wife, Mona Ghazal Heydari, after she attempted to flee from their home in Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province, to Turkey because she found herself in an abusive marriage to which she was forced to consent at the age of 12.
- NOT AN ETHNIC OR RURAL PROBLEM: FEMICIDE PLAGUES ALL REGIONS
- The majority of Iranian provinces witnessed incidents of femicide in 2022. However, about 30% of all recorded cases (58 cases) were committed in Tehran and a similar percentage (37 cases) occurred in the eastern provinces of West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Ilam, Khuzestan, and Bushehr combined. Thus, nearly half of the documented femicides happened in a relatively small geographic area.
- The documentation shows that five cases of femicide happened in the provinces of Sistan and Baluchistan. While there may be many reasons for the low number of cases, it is interesting to note that in these provinces, residents generally have limited access to the internet, many do not have identification documents, and government institutions, including law enforcement authorities, are underfunded. Thus, SFI has strong reasons to assume that the actual number of femicides is much higher in this province.
- PERPETRATORS ARE VIOLENT AND RELENTLESS
- Most victims were either slaughtered (37% of the cases) or shot (nearly 20% of the cases) by the perpetrators. Some modi operandi of the femicides are particularly gruesome.
- In roughly 20% of the cases, the perpetrators used their “bare hands” to kill the victims. They beat or strangled them or threw them from a building.
- MOST INTIMATE CONTACTS AS PERPETRATORS
- In 75% of all cases, the perpetrator was known to the victim. In particular, the husband was involved in the commission of the femicide in nearly half of the cases. Other perpetrators included the boyfriend, brother, father, fiancé, family friend, male members of the victim’s family in law, neighbor, son, or uncle.
- In the other roughly 20% of the cases, the perpetrator is unknown or not reported.
- Family and other disputes (55% of the cases) are the primary excuses that perpetrators cite for committing the femicides. In 11% of the killings honor is mentioned as the sole crime motive. Honor considerations could however play a role in a higher percentage of femicides, particularly those resulting from family and other disputes; information about the nature of these disputes is not publicly available. Nonetheless, these findings reveal that femicides occur for many reasons, and the disproportionate power of men over women seems an important factor in the commission of these crimes.
- A closer look at the femicides resulting from family and other disputes reveals that some of these arguments arise from banalities. In August 2022, a man allegedly killed his wife in Tehran for spending too much time on the mobile phone.
- THE NEXT GENERATION IS WATCHING
- In 20 cases, the victims’ own children witnessed the femicides and cruel methods of killing. For instance, in one case, a man killed his wife in front of their five children.
- While information about criminal investigations into the documented femicide incidents is often missing, several case reports indicate that perpetrators have not been charged with a crime at all or have received only low sentences. This situation risks creating a culture of impunity around femicide, enabling the commission of further killings.
The fact that some perpetrators show the victims’ corpses in public like in the case of Mona Ghazal Heydari, apparently assuming that there are no criminal law consequences to their acts, is indicative of the impunity culture.