This story may sound like a case of extreme child abuse, and it would be if the parents were Americans. However, this example of ”Iraqi Culture” is said to be commonplace in the Muslim culture, and was defended by the victim herself. Yet, even though their religious beliefs may condone their behavior, in the United States, their assault on their daughter is still considered domestic violence and punishable by law.
The story of Ayia Altameemi hits the news
On February 7, 2012, nineteen-year-old Ayia Altameemi skipped night school to hang out with a boy from her high school. Her instructor reported to her parents that she had not shown up for class. When the girl returned home that evening, her father, Mohammed Altameemi, hit her and then cut her with a kitchen knife, leaving a one inch gash on her throat. Ayia got away from him and locked herself in her room. The girl’s 18-year-old sister, Tabarak Altameemi, along with her other sisters and her mother, kicked in the door and began assaulting Ayia.
Ayia’s mother, Yusra Farhan, beat her with a shoe, tied her to the bed. Aiya, who has epilepsy, began to have a seizure while her mouth was taped shut and her hands and feet were tied to the bed. She was taken to the hospital, where her mother, was arrested for two counts of aggravated assault and resisting arrest after struggling with the police officers. Two days later, this story was in the news.
More charges against other family members were brought
As more and more facts regarding the incident were revealed, including the father’s assault with the knife and the sister’s role in helping to tie up and assault Ayia, more and more charges were added. Farhan was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest. Altameemi was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and simple assault. Tabarak was charged with aggravated assault and unlawful imprisonment.
It was also discovered that Farhan had allegedly burned Ayia’s face and chest with a hot spoon back in November 2011, while her sisters held her down. This “punishment” was brought on by Ayia’s refusal to cooperate with an arranged marriage to a 38-year-old man. Tabarak Altameemi is also accused of breaking a glass over Ayia’s head almost a year before. These facts clearly suggest a continuing pattern of domestic violence against this teenage girl.
The family’s justification for this pattern of abuse
Despite these appalling facts, the family, including the victim, insist that no one has done anything wrong. Ayia Altameemi stated, “we are Muslim. Our culture says no talking to boys, no boyfriend. That’s why she’s hitting me.” The sister charged with assaulting Ayia agrees and supports her mother’s actions, “We haven’t done anything wrong and she’s not guilty. We’re proud of this. We’re proud of this.”
According to the matriarch of the family, it is a sin for women in their culture to speak to men unless they are married to them. Farhan told the judge at one of the hearings, “I swear I didn’t hurt her, only slightly, just like any parent would do to their children.” Farhan, who had only lived in America for three years at that time, claims she did not know that American mothers were not allowed to hit their children.
Family pleads guilty and receives probation
On November 6, 2012, the three members of this Iraqi family were sentenced to two years probation, and ordered to adhere to domestic violence terms in Arizona, which include counseling. They pleaded guilty in October 2012 to lesser charges as part of a plea agreement. They were initially prohibited from having any contact with the victim. However, at the October hearing, the girl, now 20-years-old, insisted that she wanted to return to her family. The court left it to the probation officer to decide.
Unfortunately, this is not the only reported incident of domestic violence involving Iraqi immigrants. In April 2011, Faleh Hassan Almaleki was sentenced to 34 and a half years in prison for killing his daughter in what he described as an “honour killing.” According to reports, he struck and killed his 20-year-old daughter with his car because he believed she was becoming too “Westernized.”