ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A police unit from the Kurdistan Region’s Sulaimani province on Wednesday arrested a man from Erbil who had “threatened” a female youth with posting private photos online.
A twenty-year-old woman recently lodged a complaint with local authorities in Sulaimani city’s Ibrahim Ahmed neighborhood, the province’s police directorate said in a statement.
The police explained the woman had claimed that a man had “threatened her with publishing personal photos” on the internet.
Following the complaint, authorities launched an investigation into the case and were later able to “bring the accused, who is from Erbil, to Sulaimani and arrest him.” The statement did not elaborate on the means they employed to bring him to Sulaimani as police from one city cannot make arrests in another.
The arrest was carried out based on article two of the “misuse of electronic communication devices” law in the Kurdistan Region. The law outlines what the Kurdistan Region considers proper conduct while using modern communication technology.
It was passed by the Kurdistan Region Parliament in 2008 and penalizes individuals who use their phones or the internet to intimidate, defame, or harass others.
The law says convicted individuals are to serve anywhere from six months to five years and must pay a fine no lower than 1 million Iraqi dinars and as much as five million Iraqi dinars, between $837 and $4185 USD.
Women turning to the authorities to report such a case is a rare occurrence as many fear the actions the men could take upon their release or the reactions from family and friends, especially if the incident involves explicit photos involving the victim.
Some men in the region, aware of the leverage such pictures hold over women, use that fact to exploit them further, at times being able to ask for additional, and sometimes even more graphic photos that only increase the power they hold over their victims.
Police officials have assured that individuals coming forward with such complaints will be listened to and helped, but many young women and girls remain silent in fear of a potential backlash both from the predators and their families.
Honor killings in the region persist despite efforts by international and local organizations, along with the regional government, to raise social awareness against the practice in the Kurdistan Region.
Editing by Nadia Riva