A storm is brewing over the recent verdict in a Phoenix, Arizona Child abuse case. The case involved a teenage girl, Aiya Altameemi, who was beaten, tied to her bed, burned with a hot spoon, stabbed in the neck, and locked in her room by her devoutly religious family for speaking to a male classmate in public and refusing to accept an arranged marriage with a 38-year-old man.
During last week’s sentencing hearing, Aiya’s father admitted to attempting to kill his daughter by cutting her neck. Mohammed Altameemi, 46, received two years’ probation for disorderly conduct. Altameeni’s wife, Yursah Farhan, 51, was sentenced to two years’ probation for unlawful imprisonment of her daughter after admitting she tied and padlocked her daughter to the bed. The girl’s sister, Tabarack Altameemi, 18, pled guilty to assault and received two years’ probation for smashing a glass over Aiya’s head during the assault.
The victim seems to be greatly conflicted by her strict upbringing and her desire to protect her parents. It has been suggested Aiya may have even tried to recant her accusations, and that may have been the reason for the lenient sentences in the case. The defendants might have been sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and attempted murder with a weapon, and many observers are puzzled by the verdict.
Many observers of American society are alarmed at the occasional conflict between the American legal system and long standing traditional family behavior. It is truly alarming to watch Aiya being interviewed by a Phoenix TV station and defend her family for the attack on her life, shouting “That’s Our Culture” and leaping off the sofa while her mother slaps her hands away. During the sentencing hearing, Aiya repeatedly interrupted the Judge, screaming over and over, “I want my mom back” until she was removed from the court room.
In the same interview, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a prominent American Muslim leader, spoke about the need for everyone to respect the American legal system. Honor killings, child marriage, forced marriage, and physical abuse have no place in our society, and, when people refuse to follow our laws, they must be treated the same as every other American.
It may be hard for a judge to make a rational decision in a case like this, but one may wonder how much the victim’s recantation is influenced by years of mistreatment and her fear of retaliation. This is a sad example of a dysfunctional family that has played on the sympathies of the court. There are people in this country who have had their kids taken away and given up for adoption for refusing to vaccinate their children, and, yet, the court returns this young woman to the very people who almost killed her after giving the defendants a slap on the wrist.
We can only hope that Aiya Altameemi will not join Sarah and Amina Said or Noor Almaleki someday on a slab in the morgue as another victim of an honor murder or an angry husband she was forced to marry. It is also to be hoped this case will not lead to another anti-Islamic tirade on the part of the haters who have become a prominent part of American society. It is more important to focus on helping families in trouble and resolve the incredible difficulties that court system seems to have in dealing with cases of this kind. Too many innocent victims are returned to the very people who abused them only to become statistics of an even worse crime.