Tag Archives: abuse

Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Jihadi Brides

Female recruits for the so-called Islamic State

One might think that running away from caring families — from a society where a teenager’s main burdens are reaching school on time and studying for exams — in order to join a desert army of thugs, would be a no-brainer. Of course you’d stay. Duh.

Unfortunately, a number of European teens disagree. They have slipped through the departures net (the UK does not check passports upon departure, just on entrance), often using siblings’ documentation, with enough money – three girls traveling together had stolen and sold their mothers’ jewelry to finance their flight tickets – to make it to Turkey. Once on the ground, they are met by people they’ve been in contact with through their mobile phones. Supplied and paid for by parents, naturally.

Those new friends “guide” them to Syria to join the caliphate. The same way as, in Greek mythology, Charon the ferryman guided the souls of the newly dead across the River Styx.

The IS propaganda machine has cranked up – aided by the estimated $2 billion it acquires every year, much of it by selling people into slavery.

Here is an example of presenting IS as utopia. Five-star lifestyles, children who brandish automatic weapons, so cute! Note that the abaya– and niqab-wearing people are assumed to be female. In reality, they could be small men. No one would know.

The adolescent Western recruits see mobile screens filled with “IS rules!” and “Join the jihad!” weapon-bearing men. And with photos of buff young jihadis, often from a different ethnicity than theirs. Whom, they are assured, will make devoted husbands or colleagues.

Excitement, religious fervor, escape from hovering parents – what could go wrong?

Well, this, for a start. It’s the story of how British schoolgirls are married to IS jihadis – for a week. Then they are sold to another to be “married” for another week. And so on. It’s basically rape for seven days by one man, then a week of rape by another, and another, etcetera. It’s an abuse of the Muslim practice of temporary marriage, Nikah mut’ah – the Quran allows temporary marriage, but the “bride” is supposed to be off-limits afterwards (an abstinence called iddah) so that if she is pregnant, paternity can be determined.

Clearly, if girls are being passed around, the so-called caliphate warriors are breaking their own religious laws. In addition to inflicting pain and terror and pregnancy – itself risky as hell for teens – on adolescents who, two weeks ago, were watching TV with their families. The status of sexual slave was, after all, not what they signed up for. But assuming you can enter jihadi territory and emerge unscathed is like pretending a beer drinker wearing a yellow star in 1944 could stroll into a bar full of storm-troopers and befriend them.

Predators don’t work that way. No matter what they call themselves.

In response to the flow of schoolchildren leaving home, the UK government has removed the passports of girls who have demonstrated interest in traveling to Syria. As this article explains, the passports of some of the parents were taken, as well, when they failed to cooperate with those trying to protect their daughters from a fate worse than death.

Yet it’s not just adolescents, their brains still under construction, acting delusional. Nine British citizens of Sudanese descent – four women and five men studying at a medical school in Khartoum – have vanished on their mercy trip to treat wounded people in Syria. Why enter that country? Hordes of needy Syrians populate the refugee camps of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Presumably, these doctors-in-training wanted to aid the jihad.

In Syria, the male medical workers will be co-opted either as IS medics (often forced to collect blood from sick civilians to fill the veins of wounded jihadis) or as soldiers just as likely to commit murder as the next man. The female med students will be raped and handed round, with or without “marriage”, since as women they are not allowed to treat wounded men – and the needs of sick civilian women and children are low on the IS list.

When some of your best and brightest buy into the 1930s-style claptrap peddled by IS, and when your minors sneak off with dreams of victory and loving marriages – only to be horribly deceived and entrapped – you must take measures to reinstitute sanity. For too long, multiculturalism has waved its own flag, and British police and government agencies have kowtowed for fear of looking racist (note that race and cultural identity are two very different things). Which provides an enormous loophole for people looking to deceive and abuse the vulnerable.

The UK is stirring. A recent op-ed piece by a Muslim woman called veil-wearing “regressive”. Theresa May, the UK home secretary, has declared an end to “tolerating the promotion of sickening and violent ideologies for Islamists and other fanatics” and has called for the “proud promotion of British values” to be at the core of the drive against extremism and terrorism. She also will ban radical preachers and organizations from speaking at schools, which have been fertile places to initiate jihadist recruitment that continues online.

Back in the 1930s, the saying goes, there were two kinds of non-Aryan people in Germany: optimists and pessimists. The pessimists took what they could and moved as far away as possible. The optimists stayed and were killed.

No one was stopping Hitler. No one countered Nazi lies. If Twitter had existed, maybe he would have been undermined earlier.

IS is the new Reich. The time is now to save children from being caught in its devouring jaws.

Mothers, put your children’s passports in storage. At a bank, at a neighbor’s – better still, the home of a non-Muslim neighbor. Start monitoring their mobile use (or simply take the mobile away – yes, they’ll scream, but better their scream at your heavy-handedness than your shrieks of sorrow knowing they are forever lost). Who are they talking to? Who is advertising to them? Do the same thing with their computer use. Find out what their friends are doing and saying. Ask their schools to keep a watchful eye. Put your jewelry in safe storage. Don’t keep large amounts of cash in the house. You may think it’s hidden, but a determined adolescent will find it.

Most importantly, talk to your children. Explain bait-and-switch. Tell them how predators lie and cheat and steal. Explore the similarities between World War II Nazis and the current Islamic State. Educate them, for their own sakes. Just because terrorists call themselves Muslim doesn’t mean they are. They’re wolves draping themselves in the skins of “we’re just like you only more holy”.

Mammas, keep your kids from joining up with the thugs. They will thank you later. They will be alive to thank you.

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Conflict-Free Divorce Is Just As Damaging To Children As Conflictual Divorce? Really? And Is It More Damaging Than Living In A Home With Both Parents But Filled With Conflict, Rape, Abuse . . .?

A child’s brain

 

A recent article suggests that what used to be called “European divorces” – where the parents act civilized and put their children’s needs first and foremost – is just as damaging to kids as conflict-driven divorce.

 

Ha. Ha. Ha.

 

When my eldest daughter was a college first-year, early on in the fall semester she and her hallmates engaged in a meet-up moment in the dorm, trading histories in a circle with coffee. Many of them had divorced parents. Lots of those parents had handled the circumstances badly, despite their educations (high) and wealth (ditto). The girls spilled tales of nastiness, verbal abuse, can’t-be-in-the-same-auditorium-together and vengeful holidays.

 

When my daughter’s turn came, she hesitated, then told of her parents: how they not only attended her sports events but actually sat together; how holidays were conflict-free; how they worked hard to make sure the children whose lives they had disturbed experienced as little pain as possible.

 

Wow, said her listeners. We would give anything if our parents would act like that.

 

In my work as a mediator, I’ve seen too many divorcing parents who are at each other’s throats, with – as we examine the effect – surprise that their children are hurt by their immaturity. Sometimes one ends up murdering the other – and/or the children, too.

 

I’ve also seen collaborative parents whose older children actually tell them how pleased they are to be living with less furor than their peers.

 

Case closed.

 

Yet there’s another aspect of this: Even if conflict-free divorce were hard on children, would it be harder or more dangerous than life for children where both parents stay married to each other, but where the family home is rife with conflict, abuse, assault and rape?

 

That cannot be. Because living in those homes is terrible for kids. Sir Patrick Stewart, now age 74, still recoils from memories of his father’s physical rages against his mother, beatings that local police did nothing to help, for which local ambulance staff even blamed the victim.

 

Because Ray Rice is in the news, let’s think for a moment of his little daughter’s experience of life. So far, her parents have been in conflict. There’s been verbal abuse. There’s also been horrifying physical violence perpetrated by her father. Since it was clear from Rice’s behavior on that dreadful video that it was not the first time he had punched the mother of his child, chances are that their toddler, Rayven, has already witnessed violence.

 

Every act of violence, every word of conflict, acts on children’s minds just like a drug does. Agitation and fear wash through them, setting up a cascade of neurochemicals that have the power to change circuitry. It alters their brains.

 

If the abuse is directed at them – physical abuse like that suffered by Adrian Peterson’s little four-year-old son, whom the football player (6-foot-1 and 217 pounds) assaulted with a whip-like branch; rape and sexual assault; the daily slaps common in some cultures – children’s brains receive an even greater neurochemical flood. Now the brain itself is under attack. The changes in it may never recede. It may be primed to run, to attack, to freeze, rather than rationally approach life. It is no longer a healthy brain. It is the damaged brain of a survivor. Just as a scar tells of a wound to the skin, a child’s behavior can reveal what she endured at the hands of people bigger than she.

 

So, is conflict-free divorce worse than that?

 

I don’t think so.

 

 

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Are Hormones Weapons? If Not, Let’s Use Them.

 

Drawing of a molecule of oxytocin.

 

Today, I’m writing about ISIS.

 

First, a small segue (hang on, there’s a tie): This article, and this, and this one, too – oh, and this, as well – all from the British press, reveal that in the manufacturing town of Rotherham in Yorkshire (the largest county in England, the county of James Herriott, the beautiful Lake District, The Dales) over 1400 people have been repeatedly terrorized, tortured, gang-raped and threatened with death. The police response: zero. The reports were dismissed, whistleblowers tossed out, details buried. Why? Because the victims were children. The attackers, Pakistani-origin Muslim men. Officialdom makes the excuse that it was reluctant to roil multicultural waters, though many people wonder if there was a money aspect, if they were being paid off to look the other way. We have to assume, as well, that the people responsible for not arresting the perps right away were several eggs short of a dozen and thus should never have had any sort of power at all. Also, that they were minus compassion. The biggest cop is refusing to resign his current post, despite repeated calls to do so, reported here. Finally, after weeks, the New York Times began to pay attention.

 

Now. ISIS. A larger group of Muslim men. Opportunists, again.

 

I hope someone from the US military or Big Pharma is reading this – feel free to send links, readers – because this is a eureka moment.

 

“Fight fire with fire” is an old saying. With wildfires, sometimes it works to dig trenches and then set light to the ground beyond, so it roars up to the larger fire which then runs out of fuel.

 

It’s the same way with firepower. The classic response to military assaults has been . . . more military assaults. From land, sea, air, space, as technology improved through millennia. More weapons, more pain. More death to innocents.

 

There’s another way we fight fire, though. We use water or chemicals. We spray them, dump them, stream them down. They put out the blaze even more effectively.

 

In response to the use by Germany of mustard gas during the First World War (1914-1918), the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which governs rules of warfare, bans the use of chemical and biological weapons. Substances that can harm human beings are prohibited from use (though oddly not from manufacture or stockpiling – consistency, please, people). Thus when Iraq used multiple chemical weapons against its Kurdish population in Halabja in 1988, that genocidal act was roundly condemned.

 

A chemical or biological weapon is a substance alien to the human body. What if the substance used, however, were produced within the body? A non-harmful compound. Pleasant, in fact.

 

I’m thinking of oxytocin. Oxytocin is on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) List of Essential Medicines. It’s a neurohypophysial hormone, produced only in mammals of both sexes. The hypothalamus makes it, the posterior pituitary gland stores it and releases it. It’s common in childbirth (its name means “fast birth” in Greek) and is associated with lactation. The pharmaceutical form given to people in “slow” labors (it can be injected or sprayed into the nose) speeds up uterine contractions. I can attest to this myself; they accelerate like a bottle rocket.

 

Oxytocin promotes maternal-infant bonding. It also influences social bonding between adults. It allays anxiety with a rush of wellbeing. People who are genetically bad at oxytocin reception and uptake tend to display aggressive behavior even when their bodies produce the hormone. (Maybe that’s all of ISIS, oxytocin-deprived because of their genetics?)

 

So here’s the suggestion: Stop thinking bombs and bullets. Start thinking very mild, aerosolized oxytocin.

 

Sprayed from above, it would help every member of ISIS feel better. Much better. Their weapons would be stripped from them by gas-masked opponents, and they would be taken prisoner without spilling a drop of blood.

 

Let them breathe oxytocin.

 

We achieve a bloodless victory, using a hormone found in our own bodies. It’s called working smart. And that’s a breath of fresh air.

 

 

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We Need to Stop Obsessing About Marriage

 

Pause. Think.

 

How many truly good marriages have you known?

 

Straight, gay, even long-term partnerships. How many have been really happy and respectful?  Yes, of course, relationships over years contain ups and downs, but of the ones that make it through, how many are not just long in years, but healthy?

 

Not many, right?

 

This amusing-but-true Slate article demonstrates what can impel someone to want to blow up their marriage after kids arrive.

 

Beyond sharing the inevitable work that comes with children, there are other reasons for marriage break-up. Two people marry who really shouldn’t. One partner changes so much that the relationship is harmed. Or events outside the marriage impact it terribly. Or mental illness erupts. Or. Or.

 

There are lots of reasons for people not to be joined to each other. And really only one – that they do better together than apart – for them to stay married.

 

Unfortunately, the American obsession with preserving the two-parent family is hurting women who are being abused within their marriage, and their children, as this article demonstrates.

 

Researcher Sara Shoener, from the article: “My point . . . was that when we as a community frame marriage as a universally good thing for families, we bolster the obstacles intimate-partner-violence survivors must overcome to secure safety for themselves and their children, no matter their place in the social structure.”

 

We all know of low-income women who hesitate to leave abuse, who figure they must sacrifice their own health and safety in order to give their children an in-home father figure. Note that the sons of these abusive fathers can grow up to be abusers themselves, that daughters accept more abuse, and that men who abuse their wives are often also assaulting their children in hidden ways.

 

But what of higher-income families? They’re not as violent, right? Not necessarily.

 

Shoener notes, “Since the op-ed ran, I have been inundated with messages from women in upper-middle-class families who have been hiding their partners’ violence. Particularly for women who have dedicated their lives to raising children while their partners were the primary wage earners, leaving a violent marriage would entail an upheaval of their entire social and economic lives. For example, one woman wrote and said she was afraid that if she left her violent husband, she wouldn’t be able to afford her children’s school and extracurricular activities, thereby disadvantaging her children and removing herself from her support network. She described a life filled with tennis lessons, PTA meetings, afternoon play dates, and couples’ activities that would have to be sacrificed. The disadvantages of single motherhood look different for different women, but are frequently a factor in their decision-making.”

 

The reality is that the system, and the US insistence that marriage – any marriage – is better than two single parents, exposes children to violent fathers in order to attempt to buttress unhealthy marriages.

 

Shoener: “I observed a lot of social service and court systems [where] safety considerations were often overlooked . . .. When survivors [of abuse] resisted this arrangement, they risked being considered uncooperative or vindictive. In fact, many attorneys who represent survivors told me that they try not to bring up their clients’ experiences of abuse to avoid being seen as selfish or petty. Abusers could exploit this reality to garner more power.”

 

And the system allows them to do this, thus endangering not only the survivor of abuse, but the children.

 

In fact, men who have been demonstrated to be violent can still have legal access to guns and go on to commit murder, as this article shows. In the US, it happens every day.

 

How to change this marriage obsession in a reality of politicians who extol marriage per se as an intrinsic good rather than placing weight on the quality of the union?

 

“I would absolutely agree that children who are lucky enough to have two loving parents [in the home] are going to fare better on average than those who do not,” Shoener says. “But I’d argue that value is derived, in large measure, from economic and social resources — a house in a good school district, money for extracurricular activities, time to check homework — that single parents have a more difficult time accessing. There’s a large body of research that suggests that abusive relationships drain those resources, rather than contribute to them . . .. In my estimation, we could build a stronger community by better meeting the needs of parents in a variety of family structures, rather than focusing solely on incentivizing one that isn’t going to work for everyone.”

 

If we look at nations that prioritize children’s well-being (the Scandinavian countries, where parents’ marital status is unimportant compared to how they nurture their children), we see that there’s a stark divide between them and us.

 

Prioritize marriage – no matter what – or prioritize kids? It really can’t be both.

Let’s stop regarding a marriage license as proof of family health.

It’s never been that.

 

 

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All Breakdowns Cost . . . Not Just Marital Ones

 

A Telegraph story quotes UK Welfare Minister Lord Freud about couples cohabiting without being married: “Those couples are four times more likely to split when their child is under three than if they are married.” He promises to support marriage (by which he really means heterosexual unions, as being more likely to produce children who need looking after) and reduce payments to single parents – most often, of course, female parents.

 

It’s awfully nice that Lord Freud cares so deeply about children. Would that the rest of the Conservative Party did. If only they had not removed the benefits that married couples received, years ago. If only, too, they acknowledged that marriage, even heterosexual marriage, in undergoing a revolution. It will never again be the 1950s-style union the Tory Party would like to recall, even those Tories who have no memory of the 1950s because they were born after that era.

 

Caring for children, giving them loving guidance, is an essential task of society. So why do the UK and US make it so difficult?

 

The BBC reports here that many parents are paying more for childcare than they are for their average mortgage. Another report here points out that London parents, in particular mothers, cannot afford annual childcare costs of approximately $18,000, so they are leaving work – at a time when many politicians blame non-working parents. Whether there are two parents or one paying hardly matters, when the issue is the high price of quality childcare. Is Lord Freud addressing that? Hardly.

 

In Sweden, many parents are unmarried and stay that way. It is not marriage that keeps them in the home and caring for their children – it is the sense of family, of responsibility and partnership, which are supported by Swedish national policies.

 

When bad marriages create pain, why keep them intact? It is not just spouses that suffer from the evil actions of the adult they’ve married. Children suffer, too.

 

As a child, Sir Patrick Stewart witnessed his father repetitively beat his mother. He has never forgotten. “As a child, I heard in my home doctors and ambulance men say, ‘Mrs. Stewart, you must have done something to provoke him. Mrs. Stewart, it takes two to make an argument.’ Wrong. Wrong! My mother did NOTHING to provoke that — and even if she had, violence is NEVER, ever a choice that a man should make. Ever.”

 

Now that he is, as he says, “an old white man” who will be listened to, he has been speaking out against domestic violence because that kind of breakdown costs. His work for Refuge, a nonprofit that helps women whose husbands and partners mauled them, is proud and essential work. Yes, Sir Patrick survived. He has done well. How many others have not? How many former children never got over the trauma of their parents’ treachery? How many perpetrated violence themselves?

 

That, Lord Freud, is a family breakdown.

 

There are married parents who stay in the home and abuse and rape children, either hiding it from the other parent or threatening the spouse with murder, mayhem, deportation if word leaks out.

 

That is a breakdown of the family.

 

What about the parents – heterosexual, married – who subject their daughters to the horrors and continuing pain of FGM? Who beat their children for talking to a friend of a different religion or caste? Who arrange marriages of underage children to people they have never even met, often much older than they? Who perpetrate or condone dishonorable killings of their own children?

 

Lord Freud, what more horrible evidence of family breakdown is there?

 

You think this does not cost???

 

In terror, in mental illness, increased violence, suicide, intergenerational conflict, arrests, lawsuits, trials, convictions, prison time? In fear, blame, shame, in children wondering where help lies, whom can they trust, dare they tell a teacher?

 

We understand. For you, money is the only counter, and your party does not want to pay for other people’s children. We get it, you think it essential that both biological parents care for all their children within the context of a legal marriage.

 

But seriously, Lord Freud, the lack of marriage is not the problem here. It’s the lack of structure. The lack of hope. It’s a society that has turned its back on loving guidance – both of those words equally stressed. It’s condoning violence within the home, financial shenanigans that remove jobs, unlimited immigration (and in the UK, giving immigrants benefits no other society allows, simply for arriving) that pits very different cultures against each other. It’s the lack of respect for schools and teachers coupled with an economy so shaky that no one knows when they might be downsized or sacked, where entrepreneurship is sometimes the only logical answer.

 

It’s not the lack of marriage alone. If it were, Sweden – with its thousands of unmarried yet diligent parents – would bubble with unrest.

 

 

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A Horror Story

What normally happens right after birth.

 

A man visits another country on a two-week work training trip. While there, he has a panic attack and a mental breakdown. Rather than return him to his own country, whose medical services stand ready to help, social workers in the host country decide to detain him for treatment. In doing so, they determine that for the man’s own good, he must have major surgery that carries a risk of death through anesthesia or malpractice. A judge agrees with social services, and – again without consulting medical personnel in the man’s own country – surgeons operate on him without his consent. They then take what they removed from his body and place it on display, but permit him to go home.

 

Sounds like a dystopian novel, does it not? Brave New World, 1984, Bladerunner.

 

It is not fiction. It happened to an Italian visiting England last year.

 

Only two things were altered in the above account: The Italian was not male, but female, and she was pregnant.

 

What was forcibly removed from her body in a Caesarean done without her consent, was her fetus. That fetus is now a 15-month-old girl who was not permitted to breastfeed nor stay with her mother, nor return to Italy with the woman who gave her life, but was instead placed in an English foster home by English social services – the same people who ordered that the mother undergo risky, early, forced surgery instead of giving birth naturally when labor began.

 

This is probably the most egregious case of human rights abuse perpetrated by UK social services.

 

The family courts in Britain have been allowed for many years to operate under a blanket (or, if you like, a fog) of confidentiality. This supposedly protects the identity of the child at issue. What it actually does is permit bureaucrats and jobsworths to get away with corrupt actions that would be repellant to right-minded, caring people.

 

Now that the story has been brought into the light, caring people all over Europe are outraged. The Italian government is roundly condemning the actions of English social services. So are reasonable people in Britain.

 

One newspaper reported an English lawyer’s words: “‘I have never heard of anything like this in all my 40 years in the job. I can understand if someone is very ill that they may not be able to consent to a medical procedure, but a forced caesarean is unprecedented.’”

 

The Italian is trying to get her daughter – this is her third child – back to join the family. The English authorities are attempting to make the baby girl adoptable. They maintain that the child will be at risk in Italy because the mother may have a relapse – ignoring Italian medical services available to her – and have rejected the offer of a family friend to care for the child because there is no “blood tie”.

 

There would be no blood tie with an adoptive UK family, either, a point that seems to escape the bureaucrats’ scrutiny.

 

The whole story smacks of vile abuse, of regarding the woman as a container to be opened at will, with no subsequent right to her own child.

 

She has attorneys going to bat for her, and it is likely they will file suit against every single British person involved, including the obstetrician who, Nazi-like, operated on her without her consent simply because a judge had signed an order to do so.

 

“Oh, brave new world, that has such people in’t.” That line, from Shakepeare’s “The Tempest”, is said by Miranda. From her excited perspective as one of two human inhabitants of an island, other people look miraculous. What she sees, however, are sailors drunkenly staggering from their storm-tossed, rock-wrecked ship.

 

In the story above, the offending Britons created a hellish world where any pregnant woman can be forced to submit to surgery, and, if she survives, lose all claim to her child.

 

They, too, were drunk . . . drunk on power.

 

They, and others like them, must be stopped. The girl should be immediately returned to her Italian mother, with no follow-up by UK social services, and the public servants responsible for such horror (social workers, attorneys, judges, physicians) must be named, shamed, and sacked.

 

 

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Why Huma Can’t Leave, And Why She Should

Huma Abedin in presumably happier times

 

 

Let’s set aside ambition. Although Huma Abedin, the wife of Anthony Weiner – currently regarded as manna from heaven by late-night comics who regard Weiner’s continued sexting with his self-chosen handle “Carlos Danger” as unbelievable fodder for gags – is no shrinking violet, she lacks the rip-the-baby-from-the-breast mania of Lady Macbeth. Ambitious, yes. For herself, not so much these days, when she’s riding her husband’s soiled coattails.

 

Let’s also put away, for the moment, the history of embarrassed American political wives. Hillary Clinton was not the first First Lady – when can we alter that to the useful First Spouse? – to stand by her man. American political newspapers, television, and now Twitter-sphere have been littered with the wreckage of broken marital vows and betrayed hearts. Huma Abedin is following in those women’s footsteps in pronouncing herself “supportive” of her ridiculously immature husband – a bad move in the 21st century, as we will see below – but she need not. Jenny Sanford of South Carolina did not do so, thank goodness, after her then-governor then-husband was discovered not on the Appalachian Trail but in another nation entirely. In 2013, one need not follow a script dictating that one trot oneself out and publicly “forgive” the jerk one married years before.

 

So, back-burnering ambition and American custom, let’s look, instead, at Huma’s past. As therapists know, what we grow up with is incredibly influential in how we make decisions as adults.

 

Huma’s parents were from South Asia. Her father, Syed Zainul Abedin, born in India in 1928, received his first college degree from Aligarh Muslim University, southeast of Delhi, and later earned a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. He was an Islamic scholar, founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (consulting and advising where Muslims are a religious minority, as in India), acted as a consultant to the Muslim World League, and died in 1993 when Huma was a teenager (her father was 48 when Huma was born in 1976).

 

Huma’s mother, Saleha Mahmood Abedin, was born in northwest India (now Pakistan) in 1940. Twelve years younger than her husband, she met him at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received a PhD in sociology in 1977. For many years she has taught sociology at Dar Al-Hekma College, a women’s college in Saudi Arabia.

 

Not long after Huma’s mother finished her PhD, the family packed up and moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Huma was two years old, and did not live in the US again until she attended college at George Washington University.

 

If it’s me reading the signs, here’s what we have:

 

Both parents from South Asia but with a desire to experience a purer form of Muslim life in Saudi Arabia. Willing to put their only child under the heavy strictures that Saudi Arabia imposes on girls and women. An Islamic scholar father, much older than his wife. Perhaps dictatorial, certainly deferred to. A man whose power was backed up by Saudi law.

 

In Jeddah, Huma’s father would have been entitled to up to four legal wives. There’s no evidence that he married anyone other than Huma’s mother, but no evidence that he remained monogamous, either. Considering his work, he might have been ridiculed by other men had he not taken additional wives.

 

At least one writer regards Huma’s mother as an “influential sharia activist” who has, in her writings, provided justification for the legal subordination of women to men, and appallingly, female genital mutilation (FGM), which pre-dates Islam (it was inflicted in ancient Egypt) and is slowly losing ground – due in part to its demonstrated harm to women’s reproductive lives. (In that context, it’s worth wondering if as a child Huma herself was subjected to cutting, and if her health has been imperiled as a result.)

 

In addition, Huma herself was raised, not in India, but in sectarian, dogmatic Saudi Arabia, with its strictures on females of all ages. It would be ridiculous to assume that she only experienced societal limits after menarche. In fact, Saudi girls routinely watch their mothers, aunts and older sisters being inhibited and punished, and they hear from friends about their own families. Secrets are kept, but the truth also emerges.

 

If in Saudi Arabia, Huma’s father had sexted a young woman, if he had promised her an apartment to be shared as a lovenest, if he had held lewd conversations with her (all of which Anthony Weiner has done, in an incredible display of hubris and power-wielding), how would Huma’s mother have acted?

 

What would Mommy do?

 

Mommy would have grinned and borne it. She would have let it go. She would have regarded it as one more thing permitted to husbands in a society where being male confers incredible license. She would have remembered that under Saudi law, divorce might see Huma legally snatched from her mother and deposited with her father, forever.

 

Most of all, Huma’s mother would feel relieved that her husband was merely using social media, not taking to wife a newer, younger woman who would perhaps turn the husband against the mother of his child.

 

All of the above help us understand why Huma has chosen a path that made the New York Post front-page, in its frustration, “What’s Wrong With You?”. If the Post were published in the Arab world, however, it might be blazoned with “Fantastic Job, Huma!” or “Setting a Good Example for Girls”. Even when her husband, at last count, now admits to sexting three different women since resigning from Congress, layering lie upon lie, and when according to polls his political stock among voters has taken a nosedive.

 

The problems with Huma’s approach go to the heart of why she ought to choose a different path: she no longer lives in Saudi Arabia, and she’s not married to a strict Muslim husband – though Weiner’s brash sense of entitlement and arrogance seem to fit him for the role. She lives in the US. She might have political aspirations of her own. If she does, she’s going about this all wrong. Huma is playing 21st-century politics with an old-fashioned game plan.

 

Plus, she’s setting her son up to be an abuser, and any future daughter (or daughter-in-law) to be abused.

 

As a Guardian reader commented: “… Would anyone out there want to see their daughter in Huma’s position, defending a man with zero understanding of his problems, shrugging off these incidents as if he was caught shoplifting instead of texting nude shots of himself to a young woman whom he not only wanted to set up in a Chicago apartment but declared his undying love for?” Answer: no, not in the US.

 

Huma, listen up: In America, smart women aren’t doormats. We don’t put up with abuse. You’re a very intelligent woman, but IQ does not equal EQ, and on this subject, you’re bog-standard stupid. In five years, or ten, or twenty, whenever you feel like running for office yourself, do you really think American women will praise the memory of your getting up there and defending your abuser? Puh-leez! We’re much more likely to say, oh, here’s that idiot, the woman who knew her husband sexted under the handle of “Carlos Danger”, who knew he lied about it, who did not insist on ongoing therapy, and stayed with him. And excused him, and encouraged us to excuse him, too.

 

Vote for Huma? Not on your life.

 

Do you get it? Gut the oldie-goldie behaviors you learned as a child. If your mother’s suggesting you stay with your abusive husband – when the rest of the US is aghast – figure out what you want. Do you want to run for public office? Want people to vote for you? The path you’re taking will not lead to success, not these days.

 

The New York Post suggests Huma might have a “pathological need to be publicly humiliated”. What she has looks like, instead, a pathological need to be regarded as a perfect wife according to outdated and harmful models, the models she learned as a child.

 

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child.” It’s time for Huma Abedin to speak like an adult. Otherwise, we the people will infer that she and her husband richly deserve each other.

 

 

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