Iraqis protest gender-based violence after YouTube star killed – KGET 17

DIWANIYAH, Iraq (AP) – Dozens of Iraqi protesters gathered Sunday to condemn the so-called “honor killing” of a 22-year-old YouTube star who was allegedly strangled by her father, adding fuel to calls for legal reforms that protect 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 then surrendered to the police. Reports say the father strangled Ali at night while she was sleeping.

The so-called “honor killing” has drawn condemnation from women’s rights groups and residents, who have raised the alarm over violence against women in Iraq and the need for legislative reform to impose harsher penalties on perpetrators.

Demonstrators held banners condemning the killing and demanding legislative reforms. “There is no honor in the crime of killing women,” read one poster.

“Anyone who wants to get rid of a woman accuses her of dishonoring her dignity and kills her,” protester Israa al-Salman, who also wanted Ali’s father executed, told The Associated Press.

Article 41 of the country’s penal code allows husbands to “discipline” their wives, which includes beating them. Meanwhile, Section 409 reduces the murder penalty for men who kill or permanently injure their wives or relatives due to adultery to up to three years in prison.

Rosa al-Hamid, an activist with the civil society group Organization for the Freedom of Women in Iraq, called on the authorities to pass a long-stalled draft law against domestic violence that has been in the Iraqi parliament since 2019.

“Tiba was killed by her father under tribal justifications which are unacceptable,” she told the AP.

Amnesty International’s 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 “the Iraqi authorities adopt strong laws to protect women and girls from gender-based violence.”

Diwaniyah’s city police department and hospital authorities declined to comment to the AP about Ali’s death.

Tiba Ali lived in Istanbul, Turkey and had a YouTube channel with over 20,000 subscribers documenting life in the Turkish city with her Syrian-born boyfriend, a real estate investor. In her first YouTube video in November 2021, Ali said she moved to Turkey to continue her education, but decided to stay because she enjoyed it there.

Her father reportedly did not agree with the move, as well as her plans to marry her partner. Maan said that Ali and her father had a heated argument during a visit to Iraq, and that the day before her murder, local community police intervened to help them reach a settlement.

Iraqi NGO Support Her Women’s Rights Organization shared voice recordings that Ali allegedly sent to friends the night before she was killed. In the video, she confronts her mother and father about not returning to Iraq after her brother sexually assaulted her. The audio ends with her father yelling and hitting her as she screams in pain. The AP could not independently verify the authenticity of the voice recording.


Salim contributed from Irbil, Iraq. Associated Press writer Kareem Chehayeb reported from Beirut.

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