Iraqi Mother Killed for Protesting Honor Killings


Those were the fateful words of Leila Hussein, an Iraqi woman who was killed after telling her family's story to The Observer, after her husband and sons murdered their 17-year-old daughter/sister for striking up a friendship with a British soldier—a murder to which her husband confessed, but for which he has faced no charges and has been congratulated by police.
It was two weeks after Rand's death on 16 March that a grief-stricken Leila, unable to bear living under the same roof as her husband, found the strength to leave him. She had been beaten and had had her arm broken. It was a courageous move. Few women in Iraq would contemplate such a step.

...Leila turned to the only place she could, a small organisation in Basra campaigning for the rights of women and against 'honour' killings. Almost immediately she began receiving threats - notes calling her a 'prostitute' and saying she deserved to die like her daughter.

...[S]he was staying at the house of 'Mariam', one of the women's rights campaigners, whose identity The Observer has agreed not to reveal. On the morning of 17 May, they were joined by another volunteer worker and set off to meet 'a contact' who was to help Leila travel to Amman, where she would be taken in by an Iraqi family.

'Leila was anxious, but she was also happy at having the chance to leave Iraq,' said Mariam. 'Since the death of her daughter, her own life was at serious risk. And this was a great opportunity for her to leave the country and to fight for Iraqi women's rights.'

...Mariam said that when she awoke Leila had already prepared breakfast, cleaned her house and even baked a date cake as a thank-you for the help she had been given. After the arrival of 'Faisal', the volunteer (whose identity is also being protected), the three left the house at 10.30am and started walking to the end of the street to get a taxi. They had walked less than 50 metres when they heard a car drive up fast and then gunshots rang out. The attack, said by witnesses to have been carried out by three men, was over in minutes. Leila was hit by three bullets.
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