On February 5, 2022, Ghazal "Mona" Heydari, a 17-year-old Iranian Arab from Ahvaz, Iran, was killed in an honor killing by her husband, Sajjad Heydari, who is also her cousin. The incident, wherein Heydari was seen smiling while holding his wife's severed head, ignited widespread outrage throughout the country. Both Heydari and his brother-in-law were arrested following the incident.
Mona Heydari had been married to Sajjad Heydari since she was 12 years old, and fled to Turkey to escape domestic abuse. She was forcibly returned to Iran by her relatives. At the time of her death, she was the mother of a three-year-old child, whom she had at the age of 14.
In response to the murder, Human Rights Watch called for the Iranian government to reform a draft law aimed at criminalizing violence against women. Additionally, over 1,500 signatures were collected on a petition by human rights activists in Iran demanding an end to such killings.
The Iranian government responded by shutting down Rokna News Agency for publishing images deemed offensive, specifically those showing Sajjad Heydari with a knife and Mona's head. On January 18, 2023, Sajjad Heydari was sentenced to over 8 years in prison for the murder and public display of his wife's head, as confirmed by judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi.
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