Iraqi fashionistas fear for their lives after four high-profile Iraqi women were killed in the past four weeks. The two most recents deaths occurred when men fired automatic weapons into cars.
Tara Fares, a former 2014 Miss Baghdad, was shot as she sat at the wheel of her white Porsche convertible in an alley in Baghdad, Iraq on Thursday.
Fares, an Instagram model who had 2.7 million followers on Instagram.com, used the platform to speak out against domestic violence in the traditionally conservative country.
She wrote about her violent ex-husband and a fiancé who died after being attacked in Istanbul.
After receiving threats online, Fares moved to the less restrictive Iraqi Kurdistan, Lebanon and Dubai, where she posted high fashion photo shoots on her social media accounts.
Fares, 22, eventually moved back to Baghdad, where she was killed on Thursday.
Her assassination was the latest in a string of murders and deaths under mysterious circumstances.
Prior to Fares’s death, two women who owned popular beauty centers in Iraq were found dead in their homes under mysterious circumstances.
Rafif al-Yassiri, whose nickname was Barbie, was founder of the Barbie Beauty Center, where Iraqi women booked beauty services and plastic surgeries.
A week later, Rasha al-Hassan, owner of Viola Beauty Center, also died. Authorities are still investigating the cause of their deaths.
The first confirmed murder occurred 2 days before Fares was killed, when activist and businesswoman Soad al-Ali was shot to death in her vehicle.
Now other outspoken Iraqi women fear for their lives.
Safaa Nasser, a fashion stylist speaking under an assumed name, told France24 she has already altered her behavior as a result of the murders.
“There are people who don’t want Iraqi to develop, or for women to be visible. They want to take us backwards,” she said.
“The last few days, my daughters and I go out less and I satay away from the fashion world,” she added.
Nasser said her fashionista friends all believe they are next.
“The women I know are saying that their time will come to be targeted,” she said.
A pattern links the deaths of Fares, Yassiri and Hassan: they all died on Thursdays.
“Every time, this repeats itself,” said 29-year-old Hawa Walid, of Baghdad.
“Now, every Thursday, the stress rises.”