Four years ago today a 17 year old girl named Du’a Khalil Aswad was stoned to death in the square of her home town Bashiqa, in Northern Iraq. 

Today, it is still unclear why Du’a was killed.  Some say that she was simply talking to a boy in the street.  Others claim she had spent a night away from home, or had run away with a boyfriend.  Either way, the men of her village took it upon themselves to ‘punish’ her. 

Each year at least 5,000 women and girls around the world are stoned, burnt, stabbed, beaten, strangled, electrocuted or otherwise put to death in the name of so-called ‘honour’.  Often the victim’s only ‘crime’ is being raped, wanting to choose who to marry for herself, or simply being the subject of gossip.  While most ‘honour’ killings go unnoticed, Du’a’s murder made international news after mobile phone footage of it aired on CNN.

Once you have seen that footage you will never forget it.  A terrified girl is surrounded by an enormous, jeering crowd.  For half an hour they punch, kick and stone her.  When she tries to get up she is beaten back down.  No one answers her cries for help.  From the sidelines the police look on.  Finally, someone drops a concrete block on her face.  The crowd bursts into uproarious cheering.  A pool of blood surrounds her.  Du’a is dead.  

Talking to the Guardian’s Mark Lattimer, a local woman said that after her death Du’a’s murderers tied her body to the back of a truck and dragged it around town.  She was later buried with the corpse of a dog as a final gesture of contempt.  Even after this, she could not be left to rest in peace.  Months later her body was exhumed for medical testing.  The tests showed that she had died a virgin.

In Kurdish Du’a means a call.  Tragically, on the day four years ago when Du’a was murdered, no one answered her call for help.  And now, the video footage which should have been an international call to action has faded into oblivion too.

And yet, if you have ever watched that awful scene then you will have heard Du’a’s call loud and clear.  It is a call to people around the world to reject the concepts of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’ which are used again and again to justify the appalling and brutal murders of innocent women and girls.  It is a call to governments, police and the courts to protect women and bring the perpetrators of ‘honour’ killings to justice.  It is a call to international institutions like the UN to speak out against these terrible crimes, and to hold the countries that allow them to happen to account.

Today is the 7 April 2011.  Please join IKWRO in remembering Du’a.  She is a symbol of victims of honour killing all around the world – an innocent girl whose murder is a blight on humanity itself.  Help us to remember Du’a by sharing this story, talking to others about what happened to her, and speaking out against ‘honour’ killings, wherever you are in the world.

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