Iraqis protest over killing of YouTube star by her father

Demonstrators hold placards saying ‘stop killing women’ and ‘Tiba’s killer must be held to account’.

Iraqis are protesting to demand a law against domestic violence, days after a YouTuber was strangled by her father in a killing that sparked outrage.

Tiba al-Ali, 22, was killed by her father on January 31 in the southern province of Diwaniyah, Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan said, adding there had been an attempt to mediate between the young woman and her relatives to resolve a “family dispute”.

The father later surrendered to the police and confessed to murdering his daughter.

On Sunday, security forces prevented dozens of people from demonstrating outside the country’s Supreme Judicial Council, and they gathered instead at a road leading to the building.

Some held placards saying “Stop killing women” and “Tiba’s killer must be held to account”.

“We demand laws to protect women, especially laws against domestic violence,” protester Rose Hamid, 22, said. “We came here to protest against Tiba’s murder and against all others. Who will be the next victim?”

Another demonstrator, Lina Ali, said: “We will keep mobilising because of rising domestic violence and killings of women.”

Protester Israa al-Salman, who wanted al-Ali’s father executed for the crime, said, “Anyone who wants to get rid of a woman accuses her of disgracing her dignity and kills her.”

To date, no law in Iraq criminalises domestic violence. A draft domestic violence law was first introduced to parliament in 2014, but progress has stalled amid widespread political opposition from legislators who believe it would “erode Iraq’s social fabric”.


Wide condemnations

On the sidelines of Sunday’s demonstration, human rights activist Hanaa Edwar was received by a magistrate from the Supreme Judicial Council to whom she presented the protesters’ grievances.

The United Nations mission in Iraq in a statement condemned al-Ali’s “abhorrent killing” and called on the Baghdad government to enact “a law that explicitly criminalises gender-based violence”.

Amnesty International Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Aya Majzoub said in a press statement that violence against women and girls in Iraq will continue until “Iraqi authorities adopt robust legislation to protect women and girls from gender-based violence.”

Article 41 of the country’s penal code allows husbands to “discipline” their wives, which includes beatings. Meanwhile, Article 409 reduces murder sentences for men who kill or permanently impair their wives or female relatives because of adultery to up to three years in prison.

Iraqi women's rights activists lift placards
Iraqi women’s rights activists lift placards during a rally near the Supreme Judicial Council in Baghdad, Iraq [Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP]

Long struggle

Al-Ali had lived in Turkey since 2017 and was visiting Iraq when she was killed. In Turkey, she had gained a following on YouTube, posting videos of her daily life in which her fiance often appeared.

Recordings have been shared on social media by a friend of al-Ali and picked up by activists, reportedly of conversations with her father, who was angry because she was living in Turkey. In the recordings, she also accuses her brother of sexual assault.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the authenticity of the voice recordings.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies