SULAIMANI – The murder of a 21-year-old woman by his ex-husband has sparked outrage in the Kurdistan Region, shining a light on the Region’s shockingly high femicide rate and the government’s recklessness to protect women from gender-based violence.
33 women rights organizations and activists say murderers in death of women believe that they can escape from punishment for their crime.
“Murder of Zahra and other killings reveal the bitter reality that women’s life and honor are not safe, yet murderers believe that they can get rid of punishment for their crimes,” they said in a statement.
Zahra Jassim, 21, was shot dead by her ex-husband in Erbil on April 16 and perpetrators are still at large.
There has been a spike in violence against women and so-called “honor” killings in the last few months in the Kurdistan Region. According to the women rights organizations and activists over three women have been killed in the last two months and several women are vulnerable to gender-based violence.
Zahra was only 12 when she married to a man. After separating from her husband in late 2020, she sought refuge at her family’s house and a woman’s shelter to escape “demotic violence.”
“Murdering Zahra became part of a series of killings on justification of honor,” women rights organizations and activists said, accusing Zahra’s ex-husband of mistreating her in her early ages.
“No one listened to her [Zahra], and when she sought divorce, her husband threatened to kill her, who unfortunately fulfilled the threat.” The silence around gender-based violence had to end, they added.
The motives behind the murder of women have often been described as social problems, a term used by the authorities to mean domestic violence, non-political disputed and non-terrorism conflicts.
Meanwhile, female suicides surged in the last few months in the Kurdistan Region. A 19-year-old woman and another 20-year-old woman found dead on April 19 in an apparent suicide in Sulaimani and Kirkuk.