For many it was just another dead body on the streets of Iraq, but the death of Leila Hussein ought to once again put the plight of Muslim women on the map.
She was only 41. Her crime? Leaving her husband for strangling and stabbing their 17-year-old daughter. And yet, she became the criminal, not him. He was honored for murdering his daughter because of a casual acquaintance she had begun with a British soldier ("the enemy"). His wife became the target, labeled a "prostitute," for leaving her husband. Her death is being praised by Iraqi authorities as the hand of God.
Hussein was able to tell her story to the Guardian Observer weeks before she was murdered. Her courage forced her to live in hiding, and her long and dangerous journey was almost leading to freedom in Jordan's capital, Amman, when she was targeted and gunned down on the road with two other women. She died shortly after and her murderers remain unknown and un-convicted.
Our cultures may be drastically different, and yet the loss of a life without justice ought to get the international community's attention. Too many have been murdered and forgotten in the streets of Iraq. Hussein was an orphan with no remaining family to speak of. A friend of her uncle said, "The poor woman was killed and now her name and history is buried with her... She is just one more woman killed in our country who has already been forgotten by the local society."
And unfortunately, her story will quiet down and be forgotten. But may it not do so without first sounding a note for change. Leila was a unique woman, who refused to stay at home like her fellow country-women and be silent. She wanted the world to know the bondage that Iraqi women face. Her legacy should not be buried with her body, but instead, her courageous act must become the beginning of a new march of freedom, however slow and feeble at first. May this woman's life and death not be in vain.