A young woman was killed by her husband in Erbil late afternoon on Friday, according to local police and family members. The suspected perpetrator has not been arrested.
Zahra Jassim, 21, was married off to a man when she was only 12. After years of domestic violence, she separated from her husband in late 2020 and sought shelter at her family’s house and a woman’s shelter. The young woman is said to have been killed by her husband at 4pm on Friday.
Hogir Aziz, spokesperson for Erbil police, told Rudaw English on Saturday that the perpetrator is at large.
“The man has been beating her for eight years. He was psychologically ill. He listened to his relatives,” Zina Majid, the mother of the murdered woman, said on Friday. “She had been [staying] with us since before the New Year. They [the man’s family] said that they would divorce the woman. But three days before Newroz, a large number of them attacked us with weapons.”
She said that the family took Zahra to a women’s shelter house in Erbil “to avoid escalation,” but brought her back home on Sunday after the husband’s family agreed to a divorce.
Mohammed, brother of the deceased, said that his sister stayed at the shelter for a month. He says that after she returned home, his sister’s husband visited them on Friday, with the intention of forcefully taking Zahra back with him. According to the brother, the man beat his mother-in-law after facing resistance from the family.
“This made me confront him. He left the house and returned with an AK-47, with which he killed my sister,” said Mohmamed.
Gender-based violence killed 120 women in the Kurdistan Region in 2019, according to statistics from the Directorate of Combatting Violence Against Women.
An Oxfam report published in June found that women across Iraq, including in Kirkuk and Sulaimani, were at heightened risk of domestic violence and gender-based violence as a result of the pandemic.
“Given that Iraqi women and children – especially those with disabilities – were already exposed to high levels of risk of domestic violence pre-pandemic, these figures are only the tip of the iceberg, considering that a large portion of incidents are not reported,” read a statement released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in November noting a marked rise in incidents of gender-based violence.