Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Jury's Still Out

Last week news broke that the alleged attempted "honor" killing of Kaihana Hussein was a hoax. Newspaper reports indicated that the seventeen year old apparently had lured her parents into her room and blindfolded them for a “surprise.” The surprise? She was going to kill them.

Still, various commenters continue to weigh in with their opinions. One commenter, Anonymous, started the ball rolling with his claim that Kaihana was really the murderer and that her claims that she was almost a victim of an honor killing were lies. Current news reports seem to bear out that claim. She has been arrested.

Nevertheless, more commenters have come by, one a close friend of Kaihana. She said that there was a history between the girl and her parents and that she believes the original accounts in the papers were closer to the truth.

It’s all enough to make a person’s head spin! Clearly, news reports in Australia confuse people as much as news reports in the U.S. do, and some people close to the situation in Australia have a very different take on events than what is reported in the news, just as happens here in the U.S.

If the recent news reports are correct, then this young woman did the unthinkable in committing matricide and attempting patricide. With the focus of human rights groups and the UN on violence against women, including honor killings, she claimed that her parents had tried to kill her after she expressed interest in converting to Christianity.

Undoubtedly, it is difficult for normal people to imagine parents trying to murder their children or children their parents. Such people must have given in to a wickedness in their souls that would cause others to shudder. However this case turns out, one of those unthinkable alternatives did happen or was attempted. The home should be a place of peace and love and acceptance. Obviously and sadly, this home was not.

If Kaihana is guilty, then this young woman has sunk to even deeper depths of wickedness. How so? She claimed she was the victim of an attempted honor killing thus cheapening the suffering of thousands of women in the world. She claimed she was the victim of religious persecution thus cheapening the suffering of Christian martyrs for two millennia, Jews for even longer, and Buddhists in Tibet, for example.

Women who lie about rape are similarly evil. Not only do they wrongly accuse an innocent man of a crime, but they make it harder for true victims to press their case. If no woman ever had lied about rape, women may not have to suffer humiliating cross-examinations that cause many a woman to decide against pressing charges. False allegations of such a heinous crime make it easier for those predisposed toward callousness toward rape victims (and misogyny in general) to blow off the seriousness and the reality of victims’ claims.

If guilty, then Miss Hussein played off the international attention of the past few years on honor killings, a horrible abuse toward women mainly in the Middle East, South Asia, or Mediterranean regions. Now victims who escape may have an even harder time pressing their case and being believed. Additionally, religious persecution is a real phenomenon in this world, and many have suffered and are suffering for their faith. Yet Miss Hussein would have been attempting to take advantage of a growing concern about religious persecution by claiming that she was yet another victim. These claims made her an even more pitiable soul than if her parents had “merely” tried to murder her in an outburst of rage and certainly garnered more attention and support for her supposed suffering.

If, on the other hand, her father, Dr. Hussain, killed his wife and attempted to kill his daughter, then this would be yet another case of honor killing on which the UN and National Geographic have reported—yet another case in which women are kept in line one way or another. Regardless of who is guilty, there can be no happy ending in this story.

Despite the possible treachery of this one young woman (or the possible heinous actions of her parents), good people must never give up exposing evil wherever it resides and fighting for the protection of women and children, religious minorities, and all who suffer.

Previous posts on this topic are here, here and here.

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