Pictured above: Actual photo of Sarween Nobidar. Photo courtesy of: Namo Abdulla
At the time of this report, no official investigation has been launched into this young woman’s death…nor have any charges or arrests been made.
An 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 was later set ablaze.
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 by 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. In the absence of a transparent investigation, various information is circulating, which is harmful to both the public and a potential future investigation.
Here is an interview (in Kurdish) with Sarween’s dad that was conducted after her death:
(NOTE: He claims that he was not involved in the death of his daughter)
Video courtesy of: Kurdistan 24 via Ruwayda Mustafah
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 and do not receive nation-wide attention, at least in the past they have not.
When these cases are dismissed as accidental or 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 Region of Kurdistan with little accountability. Despite governmental measures to curb violence against women, powerful connections and wealth often leads to those responsible escaping accountability.
Namo Abdullah, a renowned journalist from Kurdistan wrote a brilliant commentary stating (quote):
‘..I know a lot of Kurds don’t like this story to be translated into English. They don’t want outsiders to know about this dark side of our culture. But I do. I do want everybody to shame us until we come to our senses and cleanse our culture of this decease called “honor killing.”
This beautiful young Kurdish girl, Sarwin, was reportedly burnt to death recently by her own father in a town near Erbil. Her own father poured gasoline on her and set her in flames. If the scene is familiar, it is because ISIS has done exactly the same thing. But this time it was done by somebody who is supposed to love you most: a father. Is not this the textbook definition of barbarism?
It is now time for all Kurdish TV channels, radio stations and newspaper to treat this story as the most important story. Fighting ISIS outside our borders is no longer the most important issue. Fighting ISIS ideas within our borders is. It is time for journalists to question all the legal, executive and religious authorities in our country. Ask the Iamams or Islamic preachers if their religion is so brutal that places more value on sex than a human life? Does God want a woman to lose her life over loving somebody? Follow the story until the perpetrator(s) is brought to justice. Let’s start a nationwide campaign to make Sarwin’s death the last case of “honor killing” in Kurdistan. Next time another woman is killed, we all are complicit..’