Buried alive iraq woman fear for her life as murders go unpunished

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Buried alive iraq woman fear for her life as murders go unpunished


One wintry night, a brown pick-up truck drove through the Kurdish highlands in northern Iraq with four men and a woman inside.

 The oldest man in charge held a pistol to the woman’s right thigh, ordering her to be quiet as they approached a checkpoint.

 After an hour of driving, the men arrived at a spring in the mountains where they beat the woman with sticks and forced her to walk for about a mile before stopping in an orchard.

 “Please brother, don’t kill me, for the sake of Allah,” the woman – who asked to be identified as Lava to protect her identity – said she pleaded with her older brother Jamal on that night about two years ago. But her pleas were ignored and she was forced to the ground, with her hands tied behind her back and her legs bound, while two of her other brothers dug a grave.

 Lava knew well of the countless stories in the Kurdish press of women whose charred bodies are found in remote areas, suspected victims of so-called “honor” killings when women are strangled, stabbed or set on fire by their relatives and the authorities then notified of a suicide.
women’s rights campaigners are concerned the practice of murdering women for what some see as “immoral acts” has also become commonplace, and accepted, in Iraq’s cities and towns but the exact numbers are unknown.

 Anecdotally it seems the numbers are rising despite increased awareness of the crime, educational policies and an expanded school system with campaigners calling for more action by the authorities to stop these murder.
“According to the official data from the government this year there were 24 cases of honor killing cases until the end of May,” said Khanim Rahim, director of the women’s rights group Asuda for Combating Violence against Women in Iraqi Kurdistan.

 “But you need to bear in mind that there are cases that are not registered or reported to the authorities.”

lava, whose “crime” was to be seen in the car of a young man after leaving her job at a hotel in Dohuk in February 2015, said two of her three brothers and a cousin threw her into the newly-dug grave and covered her with soil so only her head stuck out

 “You dishonoured us. This is your punishment in this world and you should expect worse in the other world,” she said her brother yelled before the men disappeared into the darkness.

 The Iraq National Youth Survey in 2009 found 68 percent of young men accept the killing of a women for shaming a family.

 tried unsuccessfully to remove some soil off her chest to relieve the pressure on her lungs but believes she then must have fallen unconscious. She was lucky, however, a rare case of a woman surviving such a murder bid.
i never thought i will come out of the grave alive."she said". campaigners said iraq law is letting women down by not cracking on those resposible for the killing.
 

 pauwa Ali, a woman parliamentarian in Kurdistan who has dealt with a number of “honor” related cases, said the government has not done enough to stop these crimes.

Unfortunately violence against women is deteriorating and most honor related cases are resolved through tribal agreement … and not at courts,

” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Sulaymaniyah. Ali said the problem was complex due to the tribal nature of political parties and their interference in the judicial process to satisfy the tribal electorate as well as a patriarchal and tribal code of behaviour for women.  

She also criticised the special amnesties issued by the KRG presidency which often allow such killers to go free. “We have not seen a killer of a woman serve his full sentence because they often get out under various pretexts,” said Ali who was voted into parliament in 2013. 

 Rezan Sheikh Dler, a member of the Iraq parliament’s Women and Children Affairs Committee, said Article 409 still applies in Iraqi penal code and men who kill their wives for “honor” are often sentenced to one year in prison. “As women parliamentarians in the Iraqi parliament we are trying to amend this article but it is not easy and it’ll take time,

” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “In Jordan they have similar provisions.” Pakistan’s parliament last year passed legislation against “honor killings”, removing a loophole in existing law that allowed killers to walk free after being pardoned by family members, after the murder of an outspoken social media star. Her brother was arrested after her death. 

 Although Lava was one of the lucky ones to survive her attempted murder, she does not feel safe. She was not allowed to leave the family house for 18 months after the night she was rescued but in September 2016, one of her brothers asked her to go and work in a hotel. She saw her chance and planned an escape, fleeing earlier this year.

her future is uncertain but she is convinced that she will be killed by her brothers if she does not escape Kurdistan.

 “I know they will kill me one day but let me breathe freely while I am still alive,” she said.

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