Karima is a 28-year-old woman who was born in a large family consisting of five girls and seven boys in Yemen. Tragically, Karima and her sisters were constantly mistreated by their father and three of their brothers since childhood. They were abused, beaten, and sexually harassed. When their mother tried to stand up for the girls, she was brutally suppressed. Living in an ultra-conservative tribal society where women are often slain in “honor killings”, Karima and her sisters were constantly threatened with death if they did not remain silent about the abuse.
Several of Karima’s brothers began sexually harassing her when she was 14. They continued to abuse her until she was 18 when she applied for a scholarship to study in the U.S. Since the embassy in Yemen had been shut down due to the ongoing civil war, Karima convinced her family to move with her to Jordan where she could apply for a visa. Not being able to travel by herself, she persuaded them to accompany her. They accepted believing that they would all be able to move with Karima to the land of opportunity if she was granted a visa.
Shortly after arriving to Jordan, Karima made friends with other young people her age and started going out with them. However, her brothers did not approve of this newly found freedom and pressured Karima to put an end to her activities. When she refused to do so, they violently beat her and imprisoned her in her room for days. Her older brother decided to arrange a marriage for his “rebellious sister” to a businessman from the United Arab Emirates who resided in India. Karima had no say in this matter, and was forced to pack her belongings and travel with her brother to meet her future husband. But her worst nightmare unfolded. Karima was mortified when she was introduced to her husband to be. He was 70 years old! Devastated, Karima was too terrified to reject this proposal.
Once back in Jordan, the wealthy businessman realized that the marriage proposal was a sham, and that Karima’s brother had taken all the money he had sent to his future wife’s family and moved to Malaysia. The 70-year-old Emirati became furious and was never heard of again.
Penniless and with no one to take care of her, Karima began selling her household furniture and the possessions she still had. She stayed with her sister and her brother who resumed harassing her. Karima had no choice but to reach out to friends to come over so that he would not sexually abuse her. Her friends’ presence was the only guarantee Karima had to stop her brother from raping her.
When some of Karima’s siblings got married and others went back to Yemen, she was left alone with her youngest brother Moussa. She was intent on not returning to Yemen. She would be powerless there, especially since one of her brothers was threatening to bring her back. Karima, managed to find a job and started living a somewhat normal life again.
Her eldest brother eventually discovered that his sister was happy and thriving, and he ordered her to return to Yemen where she would have to marry a 60-year-old man. Naturally, Karima refused. In retaliation, her mother and sister were dispatched to bring her back to Yemen.
One of her brothers who remained in Jordan offered her to stay with him if she would be willing to fulfil his sexual desires. Karima refused, and the brother was infuriated. He tied her hands and beat her with a stick so violently that he caused permanent damage to her knees and elbows. Her mother attempted to defend her, but when she failed, she helped her injured daughter escape.
Karima hid with her friends for a few months where she met Noura, a girl who shared the same misfortune and horror of sexual abuse and violence. The two became close friends and bonded over their tragic lives. However, Noura’s family did not approve of her friendship with Karima. They threw Karima out of their house and forbid Noura from contacting her. But the two kept communicating secretly via social media and remained close friends. Eventually, Noura escaped from her abusive home and left the country.
Noura’s father and brothers were furious and went after Karima threatening that they would kill her if she didn’t reveal the location of Noura. Karima was so afraid of the threats that she collapsed under the stress and was rushed to the hospital. Soon afterwards, the police intervened. Karima was now at risk of being deported back to Yemen where members of her family were threatening to kill her for her disobedience.
When TNF learned about the suffering and injustice Karima was going through, immediate actions were taken. She was in grave danger and had received many threats against her life. Much like in Yemen, “honor killings” in Jordan are common practices which occur when the perpetrators believe that the victim, usually a female, has brought shame or dishonor to their family.
TNF operatives had to act fast before it was too late. They responded with a delicate rescue mission to safely extract Karima. In February 2021, our operatives successfully moved her to a safe but undisclosed location in the Middle East. Our team is currently working closely with the U.N. to expedite her emigration overseas.
*All names were changed to protect the identity of the victims.