May 2, 2007 11:30 AM
Once again the murderers of women in Kurdistan in Iraq have committed a crime. This incident, however, was uniquely barbaric. On April 7, 2007, Doa - a sweet, 17-year-old girl - was dragged out in broad daylight and publicly stoned to death. This girl's "crime" was to fall in love with an Arab Muslim man. Doa herself had a background in the Kurdish Yazidi faith. Thus, according to the bigoted values of this belief system, she was not allowed to marry someone from outside her "tribe and religious sect".
Reports suggest that Doa had left her family home three months earlier, to live with the man she loved. She gave up her religion, ethnic identity and even her family to go and share love, passion and her life with another. This was a brave decision. She took it in a heavily religious and patriarchal society that considers women as private possessions and inferior sub-humans.
Men of the Yazidi faith in Bashiqa, near Mosel, organised the handover of Doa from the place where she was secretly living with her boyfriend. They gathered in a crowd of nearly 1,000 men, at the scene of the planned execution.
They dragged her out and tore her skirt in order to shame and humiliate her. Men pushed her to the ground and kicked her in the back and stomach. Others repeatedly battered her head with a large stone. Her face was covered in blood and - despite her state of shock - she cried out for help. Not one of these men had enough humanity to step in and prevent this outrage. They became a pack of angry monsters.
In fact, hundreds of them celebrated. They whistled and some filmed her grisly death, to be uploaded later. She was stoned, kicked and battered until she died in agony. And as her sweet heart - full of life and love - stopped beating, these men rejoiced in the cleansing of the "shame" from the supposed honour of Yazidis.
This "cleansing" was a horrific, inhumane and disgraceful murder. Now Islamist terror groups are cynically using this crime for their own purposes. They have been promising to retaliate and kill Yazidis. The truth is more sordid. Soon after Doa's stoning, 21 Yazidi workers from a textile factory were killed by Islamists on their way back from work - another horror and a cowardly outrage.
Women in Iraq and Kurdistan are victimised even in the way death finds them. Each year, hundreds of women are being murdered deliberately by their husbands, brothers, fathers, or - as in Doa's case - by men from their own faith. Women are less than commodities in Kurdish society. The patriarchal and tribal nature of the authorities in this region has created a climate where violence and degradation against women are almost accepted daily practices. Civil and individual freedoms cannot exist when one's gender means that one has no right to live as an autonomous human being, when one is not a individual in a community, but the chattel of others, a symbol of male "honour", that can be soiled and disposed of, like a rag.
In such a society, sexual purity is a condition for women's survival. Falling in love according to one's own inclinations is forbidden. Although this is not explicitly enshrined in law, the daily incidence of women's suicide, murder and stoning are evidence enough of the true state of affairs. These silenced voices scream out that women find this barbarism intolerable. That they want to break the invisible sanctions on their lives, set themselves free to experience love ... even if only once in their lives.
The stories of thousands of women who have been brutally killed in this region over a period of years are salutary examples. They crossed a line. They dared to express some individual freedom and a measure of choice over their own sexuality. They even had the temerity to choose a sexual partner according to their own desires.
I condemn these brutalities against women and have dedicated my life to fight for their liberation. I feel a great bitterness that many of those young women who wanted to rebel and protest against tribal, religious and patriarchal barriers, are now dead. Doa, and many others who had their lives taken from them, are alive in our hearts.
The only solution is the continuing global fight for our rights and the solidarity of our friends, our brothers and sisters internationally. We have launched an international campaign to ensure the criminals are punished and to outlaw all kinds of violence against women in Kurdistan.
We need international support and your continuing solidarity to win this battle you can sign our petition here.
Please publicise this appeal and forward it far and wide. It needs to reach millions of people so that the world learns that this is what women endure when they chose to be free and live with dignity.