Friday, August 21, 2009

Court Expected to Send Runaway Teen Home Despite Muslim Honor Killing Fears

Despite a very emotional video interview by 17 year-old Rifqa Bary in which she states that her father is going to kill her for leaving Islam, she most likely will be returned to him. A hearing is set for this afternoon. Please say a prayer for her.

Court Expected to Send Runaway Teen Home Despite Muslim Honor Killing Fears
Friday, August 21, 2009
By Joshua Rhett Miller

A 17-year-old girl who fled to Florida after converting from Islam to Christianity will almost certainly be forced to return home to Ohio, experts say, despite her fears that she will become the victim of an honor killing for abandoning her parents' faith.

Rifqa Bary, who hitchhiked to an Ohio bus station earlier this month and took a charter bus to Orlando, remains in protective custody with Florida's Department of Children and Families. A judge is expected to rule Friday on the jurisdiction of the case, but several legal experts contacted by say the girl is bound to be sent back to Ohio.

"She'll be returned to the original jurisdiction," said Katherine Hunt Federle, professor of law and director of the Justice for Children Project at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law.

"She probably doesn't have a lot of options other than to return home."

Bary, a native of Sri Lanka who turned 17 earlier this month, is neither a U.S. citizen nor a resident of Florida, so if her parents want her returned to their home in New Albany, Ohio, that likely will occur, experts said.

"She's living and residing in Ohio," Federle said. "Typically, what happens is, if a child runs away and goes to another jurisdiction, she'll be returned to the original jurisdiction."

If she is sent back to Ohio, Bary will not be allowed to live on her own, since the state does not have an emancipation statute.

Florida has such a statute, but it requires parental consent, according to Fred Silberberg, a family law expert based in California who is familiar with the case.

Given that legal hurdle, Bary likely will be returned to Ohio, where authorities could intervene if they believe there is a threat or a basis to act, Silberberg said.


"Anyone who converts from Islam is considered an apostate, and apostasy is a capital crime," Chesler wrote "If she is returned to her family, if she is lucky, they will isolate her, beat her, threaten her, and if she is not 'persuaded' to return to Islam, they will kill her. They have no choice."

Chesler, who wrote "Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence?" for Middle East Quarterly, said the tradition of such slayings is not fully understood by most Americans, including those in law enforcement.

"She escaped from her family's brutal tyranny and shamed her family further through public exposure," Chesler said. "Muslim girls and women are killed for far less."

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