An Iraqi legislative female candidate withdrew her candidacy this week after an alleged sex tape of her appeared online.
The three-minute video, which circulated on social media, showed a man and a woman having sex. Many of the woman’s aspects, such as her appearance and voice, led some people to conclude it was Dr. Intidhar Ahmed Jassim, who was running as a candidate under Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi coalition.
Jassim, an economics and administration professor at al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, immediately dismissed the video as “fabricated” and “photoshopped.”
“I am sad for a great nation that believes the rotten fabrications of politicians, aiming at my reputation and publishing fabricated video,” she said.
“Everyone knows my family and knows my husband Dr. Saad Salih al-Hamdani, the professor at Dijla University” in Baghdad, Jassim said. “I am the daughter of your country, professor Intidhar Ahmed Jassim. Please, please don’t listen to rumors.”
However, soon after the video’s publication, Jassim withdrew her candidacy,
“I present my resignation to his excellency the Prime Minister of Iraq and the head of the Nasr Coalition list Dr. Haider al-Abadi to also show my stance towards a public position, considering it a service to the homeland and the institution, not looking for position or money as my biggest post is being a pure Iraqi woman,” she said in a statement.
The incident is the latest case of harassment and intimidation against women in Iraq’s upcoming parliament elections, despite rules in the country’s constitution stating a quarter of parliamentarians must be women.
According to a statement from United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jan Kubis, many Iraqi women running for office in the May elections have been subject to “vulgar acts” on their election posters, as well as “attacks against [their] reputation and honor” that amounted to an “alarming situation.”
“Those behind defamation, cyberbullying and harassment are trying to scare you off, afraid of educated, dynamic, qualified, courageous and open-minded women candidates that rightfully claim their space and meaningful role in political life of Iraq,” Kubis said.
Rudaw also reported that another female candidate from the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Dr. Heshu Rebwar Ali, had her mobile phone stolen and a picture of her wearing a short dress at a private party published online, causing a stir among ultra-conservative elements of the population. However, she has confirmed she will not pull out the race.
“It is just me with my husband in private events, something I am proud of,” she said. “Everyone is entitled to her freedom and private life.”