Man shoots wife dead outside court in Irbil after divorce hearing

'She was in prison for one and a half years for having an affair. When she was released from prison, she went to seek a divorce in court as she was not allowed to do so in prison and then she was shot,' says campaigner

Maya Oppenheim
Women's Correspondent
@mayaoppenheim
Monday 02 September 2019 15:06
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The incident occurred in the car park of the Irbil Court of Law after the couple’s fourth divorce session
The incident occurred in the car park of the Irbil Court of Law after the couple’s fourth divorce session

A man shot his wife dead outside a court in the capital of the Kurdistan Region on Sunday where they were dealing with their divorce, local authorities said.

The incident occurred in the car park of the Irbil Court of Law after the couple’s fourth divorce session – with police saying the man shot his wife six times.

Neither of their identities have been made public and further investigation into the incident remains ongoing.

Abdul Khaliq Talaat, head of the Irbil Police Department, said the suspect was arrested at the scene and charged with first-degree murder.

“An initial investigation with the husband after his arrest indicates that the root of the problem dates back to 2018 when the woman was arrested and sentenced to prison until April 2019 over a social conflict,” Mr Talaat told Kurdistan 24.

The police chief added: “Following her release, both sides filed for divorce. Today was supposed to be their fourth session [at the court]”.

Diana Nammi, executive director of Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), a British charity which helps victims of honour-based violence, forced marriage, FGM and domestic abuse in the UK, condemned the killing.

“I was very upset and angry when I saw the news,” Ms Nammi told The Independent. “We deeply condemn honour killings such as this case. She was in prison for one and a half years for having an affair. When she was released from prison, she went to seek a divorce in court, as she was not allowed to do so in prison, and then she was shot.

“The girl's own father responded to the killing by saying she received justice. He is supporting the perpetrator.

"Honour killing is accepted within the Kurdistan community," she said, adding that she believes "the government there has a responsibility to take care of women instead of letting them be killed. Allowing a man to kill woman in daylight is wrong. I believe strongly that he deserves a life sentence."

Ms Nammi, whose national organisation runs the first specialist refuge for women from the Middle East and North Africa who have been subject to domestic abuse, added: “Perpetrators often walk free in cases of honour killings in Kurdistan. The government allows so many honour killings to happen. There is a great movement for women’s rights in Kurdistan but the police are corrupt and there is no support or safety for women. Women, especially vulnerable women, are left to deal with problems alone.”

Honour killings are defined as the killing of a relative, especially a girl or woman, who is perceived to have brought dishonour on the family.

“Both men and women get convicted for adultery and the penalty is five to seven years imprisonment,” states a 2018 report by the Danish Immigration Service on honour-related conflicts in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. “However, the convicted does not necessarily serve full time as the law permits shortening of the sentences on certain conditions.”

The report says women who have a premarital affair known to their families or who get married without the acceptance of their family are at risk of being killed.

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