Thank Heaven for Little Girls

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

by Dymphna
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.

7 thoughts on “Thank Heaven for Little Girls

  1. This is so sad. Even sadder, I don’t believe there will be a just and compassionate solution
    for most women and girls in Islamic countries until the belief system itself falls, or at least undergoes some kind of reform equivalent to the Reformation, and subsequent Enlightenment, which (more or less) occurred in Europe and its colonial, or ex-colonial, offshoots.

    What we in the “West” can do, at least, is oppose such practices among our immigrant populations, and call out such “feminists” and “multiculturalists” as make excuses for this kid of barbarity.

    • Between Reformation and subsequent Enlightenment was another crucial event, the Thirty Years’ War.

  2. Thank Heaven For Little Girls by Maurice Chevalier

    Each time I see a little girl
    Of five or six or seven
    I can’t resist a joyous urge
    To smile and say

    Thank heaven for little girls
    For little girls get bigger everyday
    Thank heaven for little girls
    They grow up in the most delightful way

    Those little eyes
    So helpless and appealing
    One day will flash and send you
    Crashing through the ceiling

    Thank heaven for little girls
    Thank heaven for them all
    No matter where, no matter who
    Without them what would little boys do?

    Thank heaven . . . thank heaven . . .
    Thank heaven for little girls!

  3. Dymphna was so right on this: only a degraded culture could allow its young girls to be so abused, tortured, and killed. Were there any protests in Yemen at the time? Somehow I doubt it very much. Similar atrocities happen there still.

    What cultural sickness can take a young girl, who, as Dymphna says, in another moral universe could have been born into a world of warmth and hope, and smash her every dream, deny her every right, force her to bear children while she herself is still a child, jail her, torture her, and execute her? A society that can so treat its girl children and not generate a flood of moral outrage is lost to humanity. It will stuggle on with conflict, famine, cruelty, and its females will bear the brunt of this sick self-hatred, but it cannot flourish, only barely survive.

    But remember: Allah is beneficent and the most merciful.

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