DIWANIYAH, Iraq (AP) — Dozens of Iraqi protesters gathered Sunday to denounce the so-called “honor killing” of a 22-year-old YouTube star who was allegedly strangled by her father, fueling calls for legal reforms to protect to women.
Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan announced Friday that Tiba Ali was killed on January 31 in the central city of Diwaniyah by her father, who later turned himself in to police. Reports say that her father strangled Ali while she slept.
Advocacy groups have raised the alarm about violence against women in Iraq and the need to reform laws to impose harsher punishments.
The demonstrators carried banners condemning the murder and demanding legislative reforms. “There is no honor in the crime of killing women,” read one sign.
Article 41 of the country’s penal code allows husbands to “discipline” their wives, including beatings, while article 409 reduces sentences for men who kill or permanently injure their wives or female relatives through adultery. .
Rosa al-Hamid, an activist with the civil society group Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq, urged the authorities to pass a bill against domestic violence that has been stalled in parliament since 2019.
“Tiba was killed by her father under tribal justifications that are unacceptable,” he told the AP.
The Diwaniyah city police department and the hospital administration declined to comment to the AP on Ali’s death.
Tiba Ali lived in Istanbul, Turkey, and had a YouTube channel with more than 20,000 subscribers that documented life in the Turkish city with her Syrian-born boyfriend, a real estate investor. In her first YouTube video of her in November 2021, she Ali said that she moved to Turkey to continue her education, but she decided to stay because she enjoyed life there.
His father reportedly did not agree to the move or his plans to marry his partner. Maan said Ali and her father had a heated dispute during a visit to Iraq, and that the day before his murder, police from the local community intervened to help them reach an agreement.
The Iraqi NGO Support Her Organization for Women’s Rights shared voice recordings that Ali reportedly sent to her friends the night before she was killed. In her recording, she confronts her mother and her father about not returning to Iraq after her brother sexually assaulted her. The audio ends with her father screaming and hitting her as she screams in pain.
The AP was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the audio.
Salim contributed from Irbil, Iraq, and Kareem Chehayeb from Beirut.
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