This week’s edition of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits discusses a case in Yemen from more than fourteen years ago. However, like so many accounts of Islam in the Middle East, it could just as well be from today.
Thank Heaven for Little Girls
Originally published on May 1, 2005
Each new case further illuminates a degraded culture in which girls — little girls — are used as pawns and scapegoats. With a heavy heart, here is yet another.
The woman in Pakistan — remember the stoning last week? — was named Amina. So is this one: Amina Al-Tuahif. She’s from Yemen, though she has lived in a moral universe so far removed from ours she might as well be from another planet.
- In 1984, Amina al-Tuahif was born.
- In 1995 she was married off. Age eleven.
- In 1996, when she reached her menarche, she was impregnated. Age 12.
- In 1998, (January), her husband was killed. She was pregnant with her second child. Age 14.
- In 1999, following a confession arrived at under torture, she was found guilty of the murder of her husband. She was sentenced to death. Age 16.
- In the next few years, she went through a series of appeals but at each juncture the sentence was upheld. While girls her age in America were trying to decide which prom dress to wear, she was contemplating her death.
- In 2002, she was raped by a prison guard and impregnated. Her third pregnancy. Age eighteen.
- In May, 2003, her son was born. Shar’ia law, compassionate in every detail, commuted her sentence until he reached the age of two — old enough to be weaned.
You’d think they’d just take the baby and let someone else raise it, wouldn’t you? But in Yemen (and the rest of the Muslim world) no one wants the offspring of a condemned woman and a rapist… not even her family. So Amina got to keep her son with her. Consider this: what is it like to have a baby in prison? What do you do for diapers? Do you get enough food for a nursing mother? You think? In Yemen?
Meanwhile, what about her other children? She’s not allowed to see them. Anyway, the younger daughter died in a car crash last year.
It is now May, 2005. Time to die. Tomorrow, her lawyer will arrive at the jail to take Amina’s son away. No one wants him. Amina must travel alone with her guards back to the village where they will kill her. Her parents are not permitted to see her. Age? Twenty-one.
So we have her story now. All the usual compassionate agencies and governments are making the usual attempts at intervention on her behalf. Perhaps they will succeed. Perhaps not.
Such a short, sad life.
Do you think it might be possible to save these little girls? If they’re going to be sold off anyway, why can’t we buy them? So many people want children. All these big, empty houses over here. All those sad little girls in the desert.
There is something very wrong with this picture.