|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives|
|Local Somalis Fear Kids Will Claim Abuse To Escape Tradition|
Local Somalis Fear Kids Will Claim Abuse To Escape Tradition
Columbus Has 2nd-Largest Somali Community In Country
COLUMBUS, Ohio, August 4, 2003 (AP) -- Some leaders of the city's Somali community say they fear teenagers who want to abandon their native culture and become more Americanized will accuse their parents of abuse as a way of breaking free of their families.
"Every Somali in Ohio knows this issue," said Maryan Warsame, director of the Somali Women's Association. "We are waiting to see what happens."
Columbus has the second-largest Somali community in the United States after Minneapolis, according to social service agencies.
Children are beginning to rebel after learning English and admiring American culture, Warsame said. Many girls in particular want to shed their head coverings and daily prayers for rap music, blue jeans and boyfriends.
"Many families are hesitant to discipline their children because they could call 911," said Hassan Omar, president of the Somali Community Association of Ohio. The parents often don't speak English.
"The parents love their children. They came over here to save their children and educate their children."
The community leaders said they worried this week following the conviction of a man whose daughter said he threatened her with knives.
Mohamed Shide, 38, who moved to the United States from Somalia five years ago, was convicted Friday in Franklin County Municipal Court of misdemeanor domestic violence for threatening his daughter. He said he would appeal.
Jurors acquitted him of aggravated menacing and couldn't reach a decision on counts of assault and domestic violence.
He was fined $100, given a 30-day suspended jail sentence and placed on probation for 13 months. He is not allowed to see his daughter.
Shide was arrested after his daughter described threats and abuse to an assistant principal at Eastmoor Middle School, where she attends sixth grade. Franklin County Children Services removed the girl from her home.
The girl's parents say the oldest of their five children invented the story so she could be placed with an American foster family. Her family, which spent many years in refugee camps, says she is 12 to 13 years old.
The girl and her father agree only that on May 13, he saw her standing outside school with an American boy and took her home. Beyond that, their stories part.
Shide said he turned the matter over to his wife. By Somali tradition, he said, mothers discipline daughters and fathers handle sons. He said he and his daughter ended the night with a hug.
But the girl said her father slapped her, put a pocket knife to her throat, then threatened her with a butcher knife. She locked her bedroom door that night.
In court, the girl wore a traditional a shawl covering her head, a long-sleeve shirt and a floor-length skirt and testified she still follows Muslim tradition.
But her family said she looked more like an American teen when with her foster family, sometimes changing clothes at school after leaving the house.
"She was wearing a dress that I have never seen, and it was very short," her mother testified through an interpreter. "Her stomach was naked."
John Saros, executive director of the Children Services agency, said a foster family has a duty to be open to a child's culture. The foster mother, who is not Muslim, said the girl continued to pray and wear traditional clothes.
The agency is trying to recruit and train Somali foster families, Saros said.