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Posted in: Honor Killings

Published on Sep 18, 2009 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Mother of Dead Dallas Girls Calls Their Murder An "Honor Killing"


The mother who lured her two young daughters, Sarah and Amina, to their tragic deaths at the hand of their father, Yaser Said, now regrets what she did. Downplaying her own role, or rather, insisting that she is innocent, Patricia ("Tissy") Owens calls the murder of her daughters an "honor killing" by an "evil man." Despite years of paternal child abuse at home, "Tissy" now insists that she had no idea that Yaser was actually going to kill the girls whom he sexually and physically abused and whose "too Western" ways enraged him.

Sarah and Amina refused to marry older, unknown men from Egypt in arranged marriages. They had American ways, academic ambitions, and Christian friends, including Christian boyfriends. Unthinkable! And, like Rifqa Bary, they knew they were in danger and so they ran away. Their mother sweet talked them back home. They were dead within hours. Their father has never been found.

My guess? "Tissy" is angry that Yaser never sent for her—and that she has also lost her son, Islam, who has mainly been living with his paternal uncles or perhaps with his father. She is alone. She has no one. Perhaps she wants some attention—and the media is only to ready to provide "Tissy" with that for another fifteen minutes of infamous fame.

Here is the issue and it is one that I raise in my book Woman's Inhumanity to Woman. Are female collaborators guilty, morally if not criminally, in the crimes committed by their husbands, boyfriends, or by their male business associates toward even more vulnerable women and children? Was the battered Hedda Nussbaum guilty in the death of Lisa Steinberg, the five-year-old allegedly adopted daughter who was tragically and repeatedly abused and then finally beaten to death by Joel Steinberg?

Is "Tissy" likewise responsible? Are the wives who don't ask and don't tell anyone, including themselves, about their husbands' sex slaves, also morally and criminally liable? If not, why not?

At the G8 conference in Rome about Violence Against Women, Isoke Aikpitanyi, the most dignified and beautiful young woman, spoke about how she was trafficked into Italy from Nigeria and exposed the fact that other women were the ones who trapped her and kept her trapped. This brave soul has now set up a shelter for other victims of trafficking in Italy.

Although "Tissy" may be slow-witted and may also have been super-controlled by her husband whom she married when she herself was only a child– in my opinion, "Tissy" should have been arrested a long time ago as an accomplice in this honor murder.

I hope the Florida Rifqa Bary Court takes note that teenage Muslim girls have been honor killed in North America by their fathers and that prior to their deaths, even if there is a record of child abuse (as exists in the Said case), that ultimately, the state does not necessarily remove the children from the household, the state does not always protect children from their own families.


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