Abuse of U.S. Muslim Women Is Greater Than Reported, Advocacy Groups Say

I have recounted my encounter with an abused Muslim woman before, but let me post it here for those of you who might have missed it before.

Not long ago, I visited with a Muslim lady at a local pizzeria. Well, “visited” doesn’t really sum up our brief clandestine conversation.
Let me elaborate:
The lady in question had a black eye. A real shiner.
I sat down behind her and speaking softly, I said “Ma’am, this is the United States. You don’t have to let him beat you like that”.
And she responded to me, her English perfect, but her voice quavering in fear. “Please, don’t talk to me. If my husband sees you talking to me he’ll hit me harder.”
I will never forget this exchange. I do not know who this lady is. I don’t frequent this pizzeria often, so our paths have not crossed since then. I do not know if she has suffered more beatings. I pray that she has not.

WASHINGTON — Two months into an arranged marriage, Fozia Sadiq, a young Pakistani immigrant, found herself trapped in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, with a violent husband.

She says he routinely beat her and intimidated her into never going anywhere in public without him.

“My neck had so many bruises, and I had scratches all over my arms,” Sadiq told FOXNews.com through an interpreter.

A practicing Muslim, Sadiq finally escaped in 2006, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

She says she stayed up all night reading the Koran and was physically abused by her husband for not cleaning up the kitchen the next morning.

“He yelled at her, kicked her and punished her,” says Mazna Hussain, an attorney who is helping Sadiq remain in the United States.

“And when she was on the ground [during the beating], at that point she finally decided to leave before he killed her.”

There are no solid statistics on the rate of domestic violence within the Muslim-American community, and it is difficult to determine whether Muslim women are victimized more than women in the general population.

But advocacy groups say Sadiq’s story is not an isolated case.

On New Year’s Day, two teenage Egyptian-American sisters, Amina and Sarah Said, were shot dead in Irving, Texas. Police are searching for their father, Yaser Abdel Said, who reportedly was angry with their American-like behavior, which included dating.

According to the girls’ great-aunt, their father had been abusing them for years. She says they, along with their mother, fled after he threatened to kill the girls.

The great-aunt called the murders “honor killings” for bringing shame to the family, a charge Islam Said, the girls’ brother, denies. Police say they are looking into motives.

Allegations that the girls were killed for dishonoring the family’s name has brought greater focus on all forms of abuse in the Muslim-American community in what some say is a bigger problem than is reported because, they say, it is veiled in secrecy.

“I suspect it’s happening a lot more than we think,” says Hussain, who works with battered Muslim women at the Tahirih Justice Center in Northern Virginia.

“We hear again and again from [abused] women who say, ‘I can’t tell my parents back home because if they find out, my younger sister can’t get married,'” says Meghna Gozwami, client services coordinator for DAYA, a South-Asian immigrant group that provides legal and financial assistance for abused families. The name “DAYA” means “compassion” in Sanskrit.

DAYA, which runs a domestic violence hotline, has seen a dramatic increase in distress calls –almost 20 times more — in the last five years (from 189 calls in 2003 to 3,308 last year).

Read the rest of the article here.

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