Imagine a crime scene: the terribly mutilated body of a young woman,and the suspect, a rich media mogul. The media mogul has beaten her in the past, and she is now planning to divorce him. She even has a restraining order to protect herself, to no avail.
It should be a story in the way the OJ case was a story, or the murder of Chandra Levy was a story.

Except that the story has had little coverage in the media (177 stories on GoogleNews), and the question is why (1,700 plus news stories, mostly on right wing blogs, covering the media coverage, or more accuratly, lack therein.).

Huh? What’s going on?

Well, actually, the story is being covered, but a lot of the media seems to be ignoring the victim in their coverage.

Like this NPR story, which explains that beheading one’s wife after years of abuse has nothing to do with Islam.

Orthe cliche ridden Washington Post “faith” Blog, which writes it this way: Immans asked to preach against domestic violence“.
This type of story sees to imply that there are Immans who preach it’s okay to behead your wife, but now after the murder, they will rewrite their sermons.

What nonsense….indeed, if I remember correctly, there is a Sura that says a man who mistreats a woman will not even have his prayers heard…

But the reason for the non coverage of the story?

It turns out the murderer is Muslim. And not just any Muslim, but a man who started a TV station to present the face of moderate Islam to the US.

I side with the NYState chapter of NOW, which blasts the
press for their non coverage of the murder:

Is a Muslim woman’s life not worth a five-minute report?… Are we now so respectful of the Muslim’s religion that we soft-peddle atrocities committed in it’s name? Millions of women in this country are maimed and killed by their husbands or partners. Had this awful murder been perpetrated by a African American, a Latino, a Jew, or a Catholic, the story would be flooding the airwaves. What is this deafening silence?…

This isn’t the first time that Political correctness has ignored
domestic violence to spin a story: Dozens of stories condemned GovernorPalin for “abusing her office” while ignoring that the “abuse” was actually that her family repeated tried to get the state police to take seriously reports of abuse and threats of violence against several family members.
In both these stories, because of another agenda, the press ignored the victim and minimized the seriousness of the crime.

In the Buffalo murder, because of fear of inciting “Islamophobia”, the press is missing the real story: that immigrant women are especially vulnerable in abuse situations, but that Muslim women often have fewer
community organizations to help them than secular, Christian, or Jewish neighors.

The reasons immigrant women are especially vulnerable to violence in the home are many: old world attitudes that tolerate abuse of women to “correct” her, blaming the wife for doing something wrong and deserving her abuse instead of blaming her husband for the violence; horror of divorce on the part of the abused spouse, who often has no way to support herself or fears losing custody of her children; conservative families who oppose divorce and won’t protect their child/sibling who wants to leave an abusive relationship; and because often the abused wife isn’t aware that there are organizations to help them to flee the dangerous situation.

There is a need for the Muslim community to do outreach to these troubled immigrant families, in the same way that ethically based community groups, and religious organizations such as Catholic social services and Jewish organizations did in the past and still do today.

The WIVB story brings up this problem. The comments are from a Muslim woman attorney:

“Muslim families, they try to resolve it themselves. Again between families on both sides,” said Shahram. “That would make it much harder for the wife to get a divorce if the husband doesn’t
give his okay.”

“Sometimes it takes months, sometimes years for a woman to bring herself and say I have had enough. I am going to get a divorce whether
my family allow it or not,” Shahram added.

By not highlighting stories that focus on community programs that help Pakistani/South Asian families under stress, the news media is neglecting their job to educate the immigrant community.

But there is a second aspect to the story that glares out to any
feminist: The failure of the police to intervene despite numerous complaints.

Were they too afraid of being called “Islamophobic”? Or were they hesitant to arrest a prominent businessman?

I understand their cynicism: Too many women just end up dropping charges and going back to the abuser, but many states have laws that mandate the police, not the woman, should press charges.

Asking why such a law was not available to Buffalo area police would be a good place for the press to start their investigation.

Finally, a third glaring problem is seen in the story: the dirty little secret that restraining orders are useless.

Again, NOW has the best quote:

And exactly what do orders of protection do? Was Aasiya desperately waving the order of protection in Muzzamil’s face when he slashed at her throat? Was it still clutched in her hand as her head hit the
floor?…

Actually, when I had patients who feared violence, I sent them to women’s shelters, or else told them to get a relative or friend to stay with them, and make plans on how they can either hide or defend themselves if attacked.

(I will leave it to the NRA types to point out that learning to shoot a handgun might have saved her life.)

No, the story should be about a terrible murder by a very evil man.

The story should not be about Islam encouraging abuse of women.

But part of the story is about the failure of the victim’s family to help her leave a a dangerous marriage because Islam makes it difficult for women to divorce their husands.

And part of the story is about the local Pakistani communty who knew about but didn’t try to stop the abuse, ignoring the rules of compassion in their religion partly because they didn’t want their Islamic community to face the shame of the scandal.

Another part of the story is the questio if the local police failed to take the earlier incidents of domestic violence seriously not because of “multicutural sensitivity” or fear of the charge of Islamophobia if they arrested the husband and his wife later dropped the charges.

But they forgot that Islam promotes justice.

And part of the story is alas about the non-story: about  the failure the mainstream media to take a terrible crime seriously, for fear of insulting Islam, or what they perceive as insulting Islam, when a true follower of that religion would point out that the victim was the real Muslim, and the murderer was the one who was betraying the faith.

The NY chapter of NOW has it right.

Is a Muslim woman’s life not worth a five-minute report?… What is this deafening silence?…
You of the press, please shine a light on this most dreadful of murders.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines.
Like all physicians, she has had many patients who suffered from abuse.
She writes medical essays at Hey Doc Xanga Blog

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