Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Honor Violence In Florida- Mom Burns Daughter With Hot Knife Over Arranged Marriage

The Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that 35-year-old Sahar Thabit- a Yemeni woman living in Hollywood, Florida who speaks no English- has been arrested for burning her daughters arms with a hot knife as punishment for wanting to marry a boy in Yemen that she had met online, rather than her cousin who also lives in Yemen.  The parents were livid since the marriage was arranged.

Although the branding occurred in January, it is only being reported now.

The 17-year-old showed detectives three burn marks on her arms, saying they were placed there in act of ''honor violence'' by her mother for betraying the family's culture and religion, according to a police report.


School officials were alerted to the burns by the teenager's classmate, who told them the parents became enraged because the girl, who the Sun Sentinel is not naming, was supposed to have been in an arranged marriage with a cousin.

Hollywood Police said the girl was burned in the first or second week of January. A school vice principal contacted police on Jan. 13. The school's name was redacted from the police report.

The teen told detectives that her mother put a knife on a stove and heated the metal. She then placed the knife on the girl's arms, police said. She was burned twice on her left forearm and once on her upper right arm, police said. The girl told authorities both her parents knew of the incident.

The girl's father, who was not identified, initially told police that the girl accidentally burned herself on the stove, according to the report. When a detective noted there were three similar burns, the father reportedly asked to speak to a lawyer.

Police did not interview the mother because she speaks only Arabic, Detective Chris Christianson wrote in his report. A man who answered the phone at the family's West Hollywood house Monday said only that "everything is fine" and declined to comment further without a lawyer.

According to Somy Ali (a woman who runs an organization No More Tears which helps immigrants who have been subjected to honor or domestic violence, and who met with the young girl last month), the teen was so frightened she did not initially want to divulge what really happened.

"When I spoke to her, she was terrified and tried to insist her parents didn't do it." "She opened up a little, but then became reluctant because she thought I was working with the detectives."
There was only one meeting between the two of them.

If it had not been for a friend of the girl taking action, who knows what might have happened. The young friend reported the abuse to school authorities and they, in turn, reported the incident to the police. According to the friend, the girl also tried to take her own life. The teen had also been subjected to verbal and mental abuse. As a result, she has been placed with family friends.

Although the police report failed to mention what Thabit's religion is, I think we can ascertain that since Yemen is 99% Islamic, there is a 99% probability that the family is Muslim.

For now, the mum is out of jail on $22,500 bail, and has been told not to contact her daughter.

Other sources: NBC Miami

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