This young Iraqi woman filmed screaming in pain in a hospital with her face badly burnt after her police officer husband allegedly set her on fire has died.
Malak Haider al-Zubaidi, 20, had been admitted into a hospital with her face burnt and bandages covering her body in the city of Najaf in south-central Iraq’s Najaf Governorate last week.
Her unnamed sister has now been quoted in reports as confirming her death, with local media stating she died after her kidneys and lungs ceased functioning almost a week after she was admitted to the hospital.
Horrific footage of her screaming in hospital as she describes her “unbearable pain” and nurses fan her face caused outrage on social media.
Local media report her husband Mohammed Al Mayahli, a police officer, is alleged to have set his wife on fire.
Iraqi lawyer Hayan al-Khayay has published an unverified police report which claims the victim al Zubaidi gave an inaccurate statement to investigating officers on as she was “threatened” to say the incident was an accident by her husband’s family.
The report says she changed her statement three days later, stating that she had been in an argument with her husband who then beat her with a phone charger cable before she was doused in petrol and then caught fire.
Her husband, who denies the claims and posted on social media that the victim “burnt herself with petrol and accused me and my family,” has been taken into custody along with other members of his family.
Reports state the husband is believed to be the son of an army general, with activists claiming his family say the law cannot touch them because of their father’s position.
Iraq’s penal code gives husbands the right to “discipline” their wives and there are no laws which criminalise domestic violence. However, the country’s constitution prohibits “all forms of violence and abuse in the family”.
Stephen Hickey, Britain’s Ambassador to Iraq, wrote on social media: “We feel a great deal of sadness about Malak al-Zubaidi’s case, and we hope the investigation is completed quickly. We would like to remind you that domestic violence, whether it is physiological or physical abuse, is a prevailing problem around the world.”
The investigation is ongoing.