Iraq 'arrests four suspects' over Malak al-Zubeidi case

Four suspects arrested after torture, burning of Iraqi woman

2 min read
16 April, 2020
Iraq has issued four arrest warrants for suspects involved in the alleged torture and burning of Malak al-Zubeidi.
A video of the bandaged woman wailing in hospital drew outcry in Iraq [AFP]
Iraqi authorities have detained four suspects over the hospitalisation of 20-year-old Malak al-Zubeidi, who alleged her husband burned her in a viral video, a report said.

Zubeidi, who was hospitalised with severe burns reportedly covering up to 50 percent of her body, has claimed she suffered abuse at the hands of her husband and his family.

Her video went viral, prompting further investigations by the police, who had initially dismissed it as a self-harm incident.

On Sunday, Louay al-Yasiri, the governor of Najaf – where the incident took place – ordered an investigation.

Two new suspects were arrested after an Iraqi court issued warrants, adding to a total of four suspects now under investigation, US-based Arabic-language Al-Hurra reported Wednesday evening.

The report did not disclose further details about the suspects.

Zubeidi's husband, Mohammed al-Mayahli, is a police officer. According to Al-Jazeera, Mayahli wrote on his Facebook page that al-Zubeidi "has a mental illness and had set herself on fire".

"She burned herself with petrol and accused me and my family," Mayahli was quoted as saying.

In a phone interview which was broadcast on Al-Sharqiya TV, Zubeidi's mother said Mayahli took her daughter's phone away and cut off her communication a few months into marriage.

Against the backdrop of substandard laws protecting women from violence and a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, Iraqi women are left vulnerable in the face of abuse.

A video of a bandaged Malak wailing in her hospital bed drew outcry from Iraqis who demanded a revision of laws to criminalise domestic violence.

Using an Arabic hashtag which translates to Every Day an Angel [Malak], in reference to the country's daily domestic abuse victims, Iraqi women took to Twitter to document their own experiences and call for change.

Iraq's interior ministry posted hotline numbers that women suffering from abuse can call to ask for help from security forces. 

However, Iraq-focused Political Scientist and Lawyer Mara Redlich Revkin said many Iraqi women do not feel comfortable contacting the police, a force made up of 98 percent men.


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