Father murdered Iraqi YouTube star


YouTuber Tiba al-Ali, a young and vibrant YouTuber, gained popularity after moving from Iraq to Turkey at the age of 17. She started her channel in 2017 and became a hit with her fun-loving videos about her life. However, in January, she was murdered by her father, Tayyip Ali, who was sentenced to only six months in prison. This case sparked protests across Iraq about its laws regarding "honour killings," the case highlighting how women are treated in a country where conservative attitudes remain dominant.

Tiba built an online following of over 20,000 subscribers and enjoyed the new lifestyle Turkey had opened up for her. According to reports, her father, Tayyip Ali, did not agree with her decision to move there or marry her Syrian-born fiancé, with whom she lived in Istanbul. When she returned to Iraq to visit her family, reports say Tayyip Ali strangled her to death in her sleep on 31 January. He later turned himself in to the police.

In the wake of Tiba's murder, hundreds of women took to the streets in Iraq to protest against legislation around "honour killings." The Iraqi Penal Code permits "honour" as a mitigation for crimes of violence committed against family members, according to Home Office analysis. The Code allows for lenient punishments for "honour killings" on the grounds of provocation or if the accused had "honourable motives".

Iraq's interior ministry spokesman, Gen Saad Maan, told the BBC that Tiba and her father had a heated argument during her stay in Iraq. He also explained that the day before her murder, police had attempted to intervene. When asked about the response of authorities to the killing, Gen Maan said that security forces dealt with the case with the highest standards of professionalism and applied the law.

Tiba's killing and the lenient sentence handed to her father sparked outrage among Iraqi women and women's rights activists across the world about the lack of protection from domestic violence for women and girls under Iraqi law. Article 41 of Iraq's penal code allows for the punishment of a wife by her husband and the disciplining by parents... of children under their authority within certain limits. Article 409 states that any person who surprises his wife in the act of adultery or finds his girlfriend in bed with her lover and kills them immediately or one of them, or assaults one of them so that he or she dies or is left permanently disabled, is punishable by a period of detention not exceeding three years.

Ruaa Khalaf, an Iraqi activist and human rights defender, said that Iraqi law greatly needs to be improved, amended, and harmonised with international conventions. Hanan Abdelkhaleq, an Iraqi advocate for women's rights, said that they need to find a solution. Other female activists on social media noted that Tiba's killing was not an isolated incident and that many "honour killings" went unreported.

The murder has sparked conversations about tougher laws to protect women in the country and beyond. Ala Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan's bloc in the Iraqi parliament, called on fellow MPs to pass the draft Anti-Domestic Violence Law, which explicitly safeguards family members from acts of violence, including homicides and severe physical harm. The United Nations Mission in Iraq said Tiba's "abhorrent killing" was a "regretful reminder of the violence and injustice that still exists against women and girls in Iraq today."


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