Congressional Products | February 15th, 2023
Domestic Disputes Surrounding the Death of Tiba Ali:
- On January 31, Tiba Ali, a 22-year-old Iraqi woman, was strangled to death by her father in Iraq’s southern Diwaniya province after a reported domestic dispute.
- According to Iraqi Interior Ministry Spokesman Saad Maan, the argument stemmed from Ali wishing to live in Turkey permanently after being sexually assaulted by her brother in Iraq.
- Iraqi nonprofit Support Her Organization for Women's Rights released audio of Ali and her father fighting that Ali had sent to her friends; the recording ends with Ali being hit by her father and crying out in pain.
- Police had attempted to mediate the dispute in the days preceding the murder.
- Her father confessed to the murder and turned himself in to local police.
Domestic & International Response:
- Many women’s rights activists gathered in Baghdad to protest Ali’s killing.
- Protesters held signs with messages urging accountability for Ali’s father and condemning Iraqi laws that allow for violence against women.
- The United Nations mission in Iraq released a statement on February 3 denouncing Ali’s murder and calling on the Iraqi government to enact a law that “explicitly criminalizes gender-based violence.”
- Amnesty International decried Ali’s killing and criticized the leniency given to honor killings under Iraqi law.
- Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director Aya Majzoub stated that “until the Iraqi authorities adopt robust legislation to protect women and girls…we will inevitably continue to witness horrific murders.”
What Is an Honor Killing?
- Human Rights Watch defines honor killings as “acts of violence, usually murder, committed by male family members against female family members who are perceived to have brought dishonor upon the family.”
- Many countries have legal frameworks that implicitly promote honor killings and give lenient sentences to perpetrators.
- European colonialism heavily influenced the legal status of honor killings worldwide.
- Article 324 of the French Penal Code of 1810 allowed reduced sentencing for situations in which a husband killed his wife after suspected adultery. This article inspired similar provisions in Algeria, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Lebanon, and other countries formerly under French control.
Honor Killings in Iraq:
- Currently, there are no laws criminalizing honor killings in Iraq.
- Under penal code Article 41, husbands may physically “discipline” their wives and face no repercussions.
- If men kill or permanently maim their wives or female family members, Article 409 reduces their prison sentence to three years.
- A law addressing the issue was proposed in the Iraqi Parliament in 2014, but failed to pass after opposition accused it of potentially eroding Iraq's “social fabric.”
- Honor killings are prevalent in Iraq and best documented in Iraqi Kurdistan.
- Around 500 honor killings are reported by hospitals each year in Iraqi Kurdistan.
- However, true numbers may be higherーmany alleged suicides are believed to be concealed honor killings.
Honor Killing of Tiba Ali