Outpouring of solidarity for Iraq acid attack victim targeted after marriage offer
Harrowing images of Maryam al-Rikabi, who has been scarred and disfigured by an acid attack, have prompted messages of solidarity and calls for accountability by thousands of social media users worldwide.
The student from Baghdad, Iraq, has suffered major burns to her face and body as a result of the attack.
According to local media, the attack, which occurred in June this year, took place because she refused a marriage proposal. The man who proposed entered the family’s home while the father and mother were at work, and poured acid on her while she was sleeping, and stole her phone.
Reports in local media also state that the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council announced on Thursday that investigations into the incident are ongoing.
The father of the victim has appealed to the head of the Judicial Council to take the case seriously and prioritise holding the attacker accountable. He also spoke to the media about the challenges al-Rikabi faces months on from the incident.
Thousands of people have expressed their support for al-Rikabi, under the Arabic hashtag "Save Princess Maryam".
The incident has triggered a debate about consent, misogyny and abuse against women in the country.
Many have used the online campaign to highlight gender-based violence.
Translation: A woman in Iraqi society does not have the right to say no to oppressors, jailers, or someone who wants to marry her by force. Maryam rejected him, so he ended up burning her. You don’t hear about this kind of thing, not even in the most terrifying horror films, but it is the reality women are living. Women do not have the right to choose their partner in life. The price of saying ‘no’ is her life.
On Thursday, an online fundraiser was launched on the platform GoFundMe in an effort to raise funds for treatment abroad.
The page has amassed over $24,400 by the time of publishing.
The online fundraiser, organised by Rasha al-Aqeedi, an Iraqi researcher based in Washington, USA, states that it will go towards immediate treatment, psychological well-being and to support the family.
“This young woman’s life just shattered before her eyes in seconds. She did nothing wrong. She was a fine-arts student in love with life and colours. Let’s do what we can to help her,” the fundraiser says.
According to Human Rights Watch, domestic violence in Iraq remained endemic in 2020, including the killings of women and girls by their families and husbands.
The rights group states that while Iraq’s criminal code criminalises physical assault, some articles give husbands the legal right to "punish" their wife "within limits prescribed by laws or custom".