Randa Abdel Qader
17-year-old Rand Abdel-Qader, ‘a student of English at Basra University, met Paul, a 22-year-old soldier posted to southern Iraq in late 2007.
Her father, a government employee, Sergeant Ali Jabbar, killed her on 16th March 2008 after discovering she had been seen in public talking to Paul. Her body was then tossed into a makeshift grave without ceremony as her uncles spat on it in disgust.
Jabbar was initially arrested but released after two hours. He said, police congratulated him on what he had done:-
‘They are men and know what honour is…I don’t have a daughter now, and I prefer to say that I never had one. That girl humiliated me in front of my family and friends. Speaking with a foreign solider, she lost what is the most precious thing for any woman..’I have only two boys from now on. That girl was a mistake in my life. I know God is blessing me for what I did. My sons are by my side, and they were men enough to help me finish the life of someone who just brought shame to ours.’
Rand’s mother, Leila has divorced her husband and begun working for a women’s group to help others like Rand. She is in hiding as she receives threats from her former husband and her two sons who send letters to her relatives that she’s a prostitute for seeking a divorce. She has spoken to the international media:-
‘I would prefer to be killed than sleep in the same bed with a man who was able to do what he did to his own daughter, who, over the years, had only given him unconditional love.’
She said Ali used his feet to press down hard on his own daughter’s throat until she was suffocated. Then he called for a knife and began to cut at her body. All the time he was calling out that his honour was being cleansed.
‘I just couldn’t stand it. I fainted.’ recalled Leila. ‘I woke up in a blur later with dozens of neighbours at home and the local police.’
‘He asked if it was true that she was having an affair with a British soldier. She started to cry. She was nervous so he got hold of her hair and started thumping her again and again.
‘I screamed and called out for her two brothers so they could get their father away from her. But, instead of saving her they helped him end her life,’ she said.
He has contacts inside the Basra government and it wasn’t hard for him to be released and what he did to be forgotten.
In the same year Rand was murdered, 133 women were killed in Basra – 47 of them for so-called ‘honour killings’, according to the Basra Security Committee. Out of those 47 cases there were only three convictions for murder.
‘She was killed by animals. Every night when go to bed I remember the face of Rand calling for help while her father and brothers ended her life. Rand told me about the soldier, but she swore it was just a friendship. She said she spoke with him because she was the only English speaker. I raised her in a religious manner and she never went out alone until she joined the university and then later when she was doing aid work.’
Rand’s mother used to call her ‘Rose’. ‘That was my nickname for her because when she was born she was so beautiful,’ she said.
‘Now, my lovely Rose is in her grave. But, God will make her father pay, either in this world … or in the world after.’