Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq-Abroad representative
April 7th 2008
It has been almost a year since teenage girl Du’a Khalil was stoned to death by a baying mob in Iraqi Kurdistan. The 17 year-olds’ “crime” was to have fallen in love with a boy outside the Yazidi tribe and religion. Betrayed by her family, she was dragged to a summary execution in the centre of Bashiqa city where a 2,000-strong mob, including her relatives, cheered as they hurled rocks.
When footages of the barbaric killing were broadcast people around the world were shocked. That was on 7th April 2007 but a year later the situation is even more dangerous for the women and girls of Iraq.
Thousands more, from Basra to Baghdad and through to Kurdistan, have become victims of murder, violence and rape – all backed by laws, tribal customs and religious rules. Each day there are reports of women or girls being murdered by their relatives in the name of “honour”.
More than ever they are subject to daily humiliations, are being forced into marriages – sometimes as children, are suffering female genital mutilation and are being driven to suicide.
In Basra just removing a veil can cost a woman her life. Iraqi police report at least 15 women are murdered every month for breaching Islamic dress code.
Meanwhile, Sharia law is being used to underpin government rule, denying women their most basic human rights. Du’a was a victim of religious bigotry. According to the Yazidi faith she was only allowed to marry within her own religion and tribe. When it emerged that the boy she’d been dating wasn’t a Yazidi it spelled her death.
But despite extensive evidence, including the boasts of many involved in her stoning, Du’a’s killers have not been brought to justice. Police were among the crowd at her stoning and there have been accusations of the law turning a blind-eye. In a society where men are encouraged to claim ownership of women, crimes like this are becoming the norm.
This brutality must stop.
This can only be achieved through your support in a struggle for unconditional equality and freedom for these women and girls.
Religion is a personal choice and should never be allowed to override our rights and liberties. We must stand up against those who want to subjugate our lives, education and political choices to their religious bigotries.
We will not budge, we will continue to mobilise public opinion against the murder of women and girls in the name of “honour”. We will struggle for the creation of a movement to separate religion from the state and its laws, and for women’s rights.
The horrific crime of honour killings and the stoning of women is a crime we must all denounce. It must be consigned to the past.