Former Miss Iraq Shimaa Qasim recently claimed that she was threatened with murder. Her threat followed the murder of an Instagram model Tara Fares. Shimaa Qasim, who has crowned Miss Iraq in 2015, spoke through tears in a live video broadcast and said she was sent a chilling text message saying she will be the next.
Iraq has been plagued by the killing of several high profile women in the recent times. Before the killing of former beauty queen Tara Fares a human rights activist, a plastic surgeon and a popular beautician were killed. All of them were well established and maintained a high profile life. But why are the established women of the country being targeted? The answer is unknown to the country`s authority.
The 22 years old, divorced and a single mother Tara al-Fares was gunned down in Baghdad street. She was not a politician or government official or insurgent or warlord. She was an Instagram star and had 2.7 million followers. Even there is no charge of creating chaos against her. But the reason behind the murder of this former beauty queen is yet to be known.
Just two days before al-Fares murder, a women’s rights activist Suad al-Ali was executed in the southern city of Basra. In August, two more Iraqi women, Rasha al-Hassan and Rafifi al-Yasiri were killed one week apart. Both worked in beauty clinics.
Those executions within a short span of time have caused a stir in the country. And the noticeable thing is that the dead are all women and they were not known to each other. But they have some similar thinking. Like they were all very influential in their positions and were very active socially. Their way of life was quite different from conservative Iraqi society. It is not clear yet whether they have been killed due to their active social status.
Iraq’s acting prime minister, Haider al-Abadi has said that he believed the killings were well-planned and he ordered the investigation.
Meanwhile, there are the mixed reaction of netizen in the social media over these recent killings. Conservatives said they deserved what they got because of their actions. On the other hand, many think of recent killings as a threat to Iraqi women. A female activist said, “I think that what happened to these girls is considered as a threat for all Iraqi women and girls who want to live their lives freely, regardless of their ethnicity, religion and roles.”
Hana`a Adwar, founder of the Iraqi Human Rights Group Iraqi Al-Amal Association said targeting the public figures means creating an environment to force the women to stay in their houses.
In the context of the recent killings, how the war-torn country Iraq and its society safeguard its women is a matter of view for now.