Thursday, April 8, 2010

An "Honour" Killing That Might Have Been Prevented?

Well, perhaps.

In Australia, the Emergency Response number is 000 (the equivalent of 999 in Great Britain, or 911 in North America).

Well, a judge in a murder trial in Australia has ruled, in effect, that 000 turned out to be a real triple goose egg in the tragic and brutal murder of Marzieh Rahimi at the hands of her cousin/husband.

From the Herald Sun

A JUDGE has slammed a 000 operator's reaction to an Afghan woman who called complaining of domestic violence days before her death.

Soltan Ahmad Azizi, 46, strangled his wife Marzieh Rahimi with her veil after complaining she had become "too Australian''.

Sentencing Azizi to a minimum of 17-and-a-half years behind bars, Justice Betty King said police should have been there for Ms Rahimi after she called 000 for help just days before her death.

Ms Rahimi, a mother of five, was killed in front of the couple's three-month old baby and toddler, 22 months, in their Hampton Park home in November 2007.

"It is most unfortunate that no assistance was forthcoming as a result of a very disappointing reaction by the telephone operator to your wife's inability to speak English in anything other than a broken English manner,'' Justice King said.

Upon a closer rendering of the details of this story, it would appear that the 000 operator was not personally at fault. However, during the time it took to get a translator on the line, the distressed caller from the victim's address had hung up.

Tragically, this story has an all-too-familiar pattern to it:

- a (presumably) loveless arranged marriage between cousins;
- a domineering, controlling and abusive husband;
- a wife cut off from casual and ordinary social contact or interaction;
- a resistance to acculturate and integrate into the broader host society;
- a complaint to family that the wife was becoming "too Australian" (read too westernized);
- the revelation that the wife desired to seek a divorce;
- the symbolic use of the hijab as a weapon for strangulation;
- the call to the police (by the husband) after the killing, saying he was "ready for the handcuffs";
- the predictable "not guilty" plea in court.

The jury, for their part, bought none of the husband's rationalizations in his defense, and returned a guilty verdict.

Prior to sentencing, the judge remarked: "Your treatment of your wife over a period of time was not what would be normally acceptable in this country, but you are not here to be punished for that, you are to be punished for your ultimate treatment of your wife which was that you killed her." Soltan Ahmad Azizi was sentenced to 22 years, with no chance of parole for 17 years.

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