The case of 17-year old Rifqa Bary–the Ohio runaway who is claiming she will be the victim of an “honor killing” if returned to her parents–is complicated. Many issues are at play: children’s rights, parent’s rights, religious freedom and extremism. Is she a petulant teen? A simple runaway with a compelling albeit made-up story? Or are her parents tyrants who consider their child an apostate for converting to Christianity. Will they, as Rifqa claims, kill her to regain the family’s honor?
The courts will have to decide her fate. But it is important to remember that honor killings do happen–primarily in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan but with more frequency in the West. Just last year, 50-year old Egyptian immigrant Yaser Said shot both his teenage daughters in Texas after learning one of his daughters had a boyfriend–something he strictly prohibited. In February 2009, in New York, Muslim television executive Muzzamil Hassan murdered (by beheading) his wife after she filed for divorce. And in Canada, four women (three sisters and their father’s first wife) were killed by their family members in an honor killing after the sisters demanded more freedom.
It also highlights another important issue–the mainstream media’s discomfort calling these types of murders “honor killings” instead of the preferred term “domestic violence.” As these crimes increase in the US and Canada, will the media properly identify these killings? Or will they cave to political correctness?
A decision in the Bary case is expected soon. If she is returned to the care of her parents, lets hope the media continues to follow this story. That public scrutiny may keep her safe…until she can legally leave home in one year.