Even in a religious culture that advocates the murder of victims as honorable, fathers and brothers are typically the perpetrators of horrific violence against female family members whose only crime was to be the victim of another, the killing of a child by its mother stands out as particularly unnatural and depraved.
Such a heinous act occurred recently in Sohag, Egypt when a mother of a two-year-old child took the life of her child rather than protect it from violent sexual assault by its own grandfather.
A Muslim mother identified only as “Merfat” was awakened by screams in the middle of the night and found her father, Faraj, in the act of raping her daughter.
Rather than acting out of a natural, protective instinct, the 23-year-old mother chose to shield her father from scandal as taught by Muslim theology and Sharia law.
Merfat told authorities that she took her daughter, little Grace Ahmed, from the grandfather, placed her in a tub and held her head under water until the child drown.
Alik Akhmim, Chief Detective of the police in Sohag told Egyptian reporters that “traces of blood” had been found in the little girl’s anus, evidencing the degree of force and injury the child endured at the hands of her mother’s father.
This kind of act is referred to as an “honor killing” thought to place the reputation of the family above that of any individual member, and which is used to punish the victim rather than hold the perpetrator accountable.
Murdering rape victims is common in countries and communities that adhere to Sharia law where the crime is rarely reported for fear of exposing the family to shame.
“Honor killing” is no longer limited to predominantly Muslim countries or the Middle East. According to a study commissioned by the United States Department of Justice, honor killings are on the rise in America as Muslim families immigrate and bring the barbaric practice with them.
The practice is now an even more concerning problem in the United Kingdom where 11,000 reported cases in the past five years are said to be merely the tip of the iceberg.
In the case of Grace Ahmed’s murder, at least, police have arrested her grandfather, Faraj, for rape and her mother, Merfat, for murder so that justice may, in fact, still be done, although far too late to save the child.