Kurdistan Tribune – 16.4.2013 – On the night of 5th February 2012, a 27 year old teacher known as Sakar was murdered in the town of Ranya in south Kurdistan. The next day the police arrested and charged her father who was convicted by a court, following written evidence provided against him by his wife, Sakar’s mother.

He was sentenced to several years’ imprisonment. Just a few months later, the father was released in one of President Barzani’s general amnesties. This outraged many people, and 56 local women’s groups, led by the Jian group, got together to campaign for justice for Sakar. On Sunday the father was brought before a higher court in Suli, his third court appearance in this case. However, this time the murdered woman’s mother refused to attend the court or submit any more evidence. Releasing the father, the judge speculated that the women’s groups had probably written the mother’s previous evidence for her!

Bahar Munzir, from the Jian group, told Awene: “Other organisations would never expect such an outcome from the court. We are very sorry that the court did not investigate the truth as to how this young woman was murdered”. Unfortunately there are reports of women being murdered in south Kurdistan, mainly by men, almost every week. Why don’t the mullahs speak out against these crimes during their Friday prayers? The Koran says that killing is not allowed; a woman is a human being who must not be killed. Why don’t our lecturers and teachers publicly condemn the widespread violence against women? Why don’t our politicians take action to protect women?

Where are the Kurdish women MPs in the Iraqi and Kurdistan parliament – why aren’t they raising their voices? Perhaps they think they must keep quiet where lawyers and judges are involved, but where are their voices for justice and equality? If the Jian group has failed in its campaign for justice, it needs to consider a different strategy. Woman’s groups should do further research into why this issue is so common in the south of Kurdistan – what are the causes and how we can prevent it? They should also try and involve international celebrities to give their campaign a higher profile.

There must be a broad, public education campaign – combined with effective prosecutions and exemplary sentencing – to diminish a problem that blights our society.