Kurdistan: University undergraduate ‘killed for falling in love’

15621849_1559739597374204_7628684077549035171_nAn undergraduate student at Ishik University in Kurdistan Region’s Erbil city has died in what appears to be an honour-related case. Her name is Sarween Nobidar (21-years-old).

Kurdish MP Soran Omar has issued an official statement about the killing of Sarween Nobidar. MP Omar highlights that according to close family associates, Sarween suffered a stab wound to her hand by her father, and later set ablaze.

He urges an immediate investigation into this matter. The official document is found in Kurdish below:15698215_702255663267723_2735166267643812513_n.jpg

Numerous Facebook posts have surfaced online, where people allege that her father set her ablaze for falling in love with someone at her University that the family did not consider appropriate. These posts — found in Kurdish Facebook/Instagram accounts highlight that the man proposed to her on several occasions, and her family rejected him because he was deemed unsuitable due to ‘tribal’ reasons.

These posts, some made Ishik University students and others activists come at a time where an official investigation into this matter has not been launched. It has raised speculation, gossip and various other accusations made. In the absence of an transparent investigation, various information is circulating, which is harmful to both the public and potential investigation.

Women setting themselves ablaze is not new in the region, and there are numerous cases in the past where this has happened. In most cases, it is dismissed as accidental, particularly when there’s an overwhelming element of honour. These cases don’t make headlines are don’t receive nation-wide attention, at least in the past they did not.

When these cases are dismissed as accidental or alternatively as the woman committing suicide, they are hard to investigate as family members attempt to cover these incidents for the sake of not attracting public ridicule or ‘shame’.

I urge the Kurdish government and responsible authorities to issue a transparent investigation into this case because male chauvinism, patriarchal attitudes and violence against women continue to exist in Kurdistan Region with little accountability. Despite governmental measures to curb violence against women, powerful connections and wealth often leads to those responsible escaping accountability.

Update (Saturday, 19:40 GMT): 

  • The father has given an interview to K24, a local channel. Details on Facebook with video, here.

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