On 15 August, 18-year-old Sarab Muhammad died in a hospital from severe burn injuries.
On the day she dies, Sarab calls her mother complaining about the physical abuse she gets from her husband, urging her to send someone to take her back to her parent’s home. But later that day she dies in a hospital before her parents can talk to her again.
Allegedly setting fire to herself, Sarab was taken to a hospital two hours after the phone call with her mother.
Qasoun Hammadi Kazim, Sarab’s mother, said: “At 10 o’clock that morning, she called me, saying that her husband beat her severely and that she doesn’t want to live him anymore, and asked that someone should go get her.”
After that phone call, her parents try to reach her again several times, but she doesn’t pick up her phone. Finally, when they call again an hour later, her husband’s sister pick up Sarab’s phone and tells them that Sarab is taking a bath, that’s why she hadn’t been answering their calls. Sarab’s phone gets turned off after that last call.
After about an hour later, a phone call is made to her mother’s phone from an unknown number telling her: “your daughter has burn injuries and she is at Kirkuk’s Azadi Hospital.”
“We rushed to the hospital and saw that she was covered in burn wounds. The doctors said the rate of the burn is 100%,” said Qasoun.
Sarab had been in love with a 23-year-old, and they got married about nine months ago.
Muhammad Hamalaw, Sarab’s father, told KirkukNow: “During their 9 months of marriage, Sarab and her husband had 12 fights and each time she would come back home.
She died 20 minutes after she was taken to the hospital
Sarab was alone at the hospital; her neighbours and others had brought her to the hospital; neither her husband, nor anyone from her in-law family were there. She died 20 minutes after she was taken to the hospital.”
Hamalaw accuses Sarab’s husband and his family, and has submitted a legal complaint to the police.
the husband was home at the time it happened, but he hadn’t made attempts to distinguish the fire that engulfed Sarab
A source from Kirkuk Police, who demanded to remain anonymous, told KirkukNow: “The incident happened at the couple’s house, the husband was home at the time it happened, but he hadn’t made attempts to distinguish the fire that engulfed Sarab.”
A few days later, on the night of 19 August, Kirkuk Police detained Sarab’s husband as the main suspect in the case.
The police source added: “During the interrogation, Sarab’s husband has said that he had called an ambulance to take her wife to the hospital, but that his sister had prevented him from going with Sarab to the hospital, warning him that he would get in trouble.”
His sister is now also a suspect in the case and a warrant has been issued for her detention.
The police source also added that when Sarab’s husband called the ambulance “his own car had been parked in front of their home, so he could’ve taken her to the hospital quickly,” and that “Sarab’s husband had lied during the interrogation about being a member of PMU. After looking into it, it turned out he is a labourer.”
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a surge in domestic violence across Iraq. According to statistics from the Interior Ministry, there were 5000 domestic violence cases.
Since the beginning of 2020, there were more than 150 cases of domestic violence in Kirkuk
Sajad Jum’a, head of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) office in Kirkuk, told KirkukNow: “Since the beginning of 2020, there were more than 150 cases of domestic violence in Kirkuk. We are certain that there are dozens more that aren’t being reported, but covered up.”
According to Jum’a, among the reasons behind the surge of domestic violence rate is the financial crisis.
There are no shelters in Kirkuk and other disputed areas for women who are being abused and threatened.
There is currently a resolution on domestic violence in process at the Iraqi Parliament.