Family Gives Away 14-Year-Old Girl In Arranged Marriage . . . Girl Kills 35-Year-Old Groom and Three Friends With Rat Poison

poison_sign_lWe have long discussed the plight of young girls in Muslim nations who have been handed over as child brides in arranged marriages. Wasila Umaru, 14, however, decided not to go quietly into a marriage with a 35-year-old man. She made a meal for the groom and three friends and poisoned them all to death.

Umaru used rat poison for the murderers — just one week after her arranged marriage.

The question is how the law should treat a young girl in such a circumstance. Her family and her community had abandoned her and subjected her to a marriage that would be considered a form of rape in many countries. Yet, she reportedly committed four murders.

In some countries, she could claim a battered spouse defense. These cases often involve responses where women killed in atypical ways and often after attack or abuse has occurred. I have seen cases in my career where women have killed days after an attack. including one years ago where a woman drenched her husband with gasoline and lit him on fire.

How much of a mitigating factor should the age and arranged marriage be in such a case? Do you think it could be a complete defense as a form of insanity?

Source: Montreal Gazette

36 thoughts on “Family Gives Away 14-Year-Old Girl In Arranged Marriage . . . Girl Kills 35-Year-Old Groom and Three Friends With Rat Poison

  1. Well, I thought Patty Hearst was wrongly charged.

    I would first consider her to be a kidnap and rape victim and give her enormous amounts of leeway. I would have to know more about local customs and the availability and sympathy of the local police and prosecutors to young victims of rape in her country.

    If it would be “easy” for her to escape and seek sanctuary she would be far more culpable than if her escape was deemed unlikely or risky.

    Hell with the three friends, kidnapper rapists ain’t no friends of mine.

  2. I knew a Persian family who had their daughter’s friend stay with them for a month. She was a teenager. After that month, she was going back to her home country, India, where she would be given away in an arranged marriage to an older man she had never met. She was a good Muslim girl, kind and shy, and had never gone on a date or had a male friend before. She was scared and grieving.

    My friend explained to me that her family had offered to let her stay with them permanently, if she decided she couldn’t go through with it. But it would mean that the girl’s family would disown her. This girl was so sheltered, protected, had no idea how to possibly live on her own. She was taught from birth to obey her parents. And they use that family connection, the center of her life, as intense pressure.

    I felt so bad for her. She felt she had no choice. Her freedom wasn’t worth losing her family forever. I never found out what happened to her, but I hope she is OK.

    When I read about this poor Nigerian girl, the first thing that I thought of was that she had no choice about the marriage. She was forced to do it. Clearly the events of that week hadn’t warmed her up to the idea of living with a pedophile. She probably couldn’t leave him and return to her family. She could have killed herself, like many do, but killed her rapist, instead. In my eyes, that man wasn’t her husband. She wasn’t there by choice.

    Nigeria supposedly enacted a law that the minimum age to marry is 18. But they do not enforce it. So if they apply the law, this was an illegal marriage. Couldn’t they deduce that she was held against her will by a pedophile, whom she murdered to escape? Girls with no options do desperate things. I hope it will be a mitigating factor, and a call to do something about the subjugation of women and child brides in Muslim nations, and other cultures.

    If one of Ariel Castro’s victims had murdered him in order to escape, we would say, “Great. Good riddance.”

  3. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is practiced more widely in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world. If she was subjected to this, then a knife would have been required for her wedding night to physically take place. And being a child, at 14, her marriage would have created even more damage. It breaks my heart what that child went through, and that she had no help.

    This might possibly have been a contributing factor to her plight.

    This National Institute of Health article explains FGM in Nigeria. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3507121/

  4. My first reaction is that murder is never the answer, my second thought is I would not prosecute or punish because I am sure that her mental state would be a complet defense. It is amazing and disgusting that humans have so little respect for women and girls that they subject them to such outrages and expect them to quietly accept. I don’t care about a “religious defense” or a “cultural defense” for the parents. Any culture or religion that allows this kind of treatment of women is in my opinion flawed no matter where it exists.

  5. This reminds me of Phoolan Devi – India’s bandit queen. The potnt is , did she have any choice if the alternative was to be a child slave wife? Where this is practiced the society’s do not usually allow the girl to say – no thanks and just walk away. Put yourself in her position. You are a child and your society had put you in the position of being raped/brutalised without an escape route. Doesn’t everyone have the right to self defense? I can’t see that anything less than killing her attacker would work. OK so maybe she shouldn’t have killed his mates as well, but if nobody gives a damn about you, why should you give a damn about anyone else. One things for sure. Nobody else will be queueing up to marry her.

  6. Societal norms regarding the treatment of women have, are and hopefully will continue to evolve. For starters, read Exodus chapter 21. Therein daughters are allowed to be sold into slavery and then made into wives for their master’s sons. Then study up on Lily Ledbetter. In justifying her Senate vote to invade Afghanistan, Hillary Clinton observed that the US could do some social engineering to improve the lot of Afghani women. But is social engineering wise? Time will tell. But my money is on evolution, not engineering. I would not have my sons go to war as social engineers, nor my daughters!

  7. Certain laws and truths exist fully and beyond the confines of religion: christianity, islam, whatever. The girl did what she had to. The husband deserved to die for violating her, regardless of custom or religion. This is no different than a slave in the US killing his master. The slave has the right to freedom. The master deserves to die, regardless of time, tradition, economic structure, religion, etc. We cannot condone rape and other crimes that happen under the umbrella of custom and religious interpretation. If the man’s religion had permitted him to steal, then he would steal. This is human nature and some humans should be eliminated.

  8. I would hope that in this country the girl would be found not guilty due the fact that she was forced into this situation, held against her will, suffered mental anguish, and a case could be built against possible abused by the husband and friends.
    In reality, she is from Nigeria and will be killed. God be with her.

  9. This reminds me of the milkshake murderer.

    The father of the banker killed by milkshake murderer Nancy Kissel hopes a court’s dismissal of her appeal against her murder conviction will end the saga and allow him to enjoy life as a “very lucky” grandfather.

    Kissel was jailed for life for the second time following a retrial held in 2011 after the jury found her guilty of feeding her Merrill Lynch banker husband a drug-laced milkshake before bludgeoning him to death with a lead ornament at their Parkview flat in Tai Tam.

  10. I’m no religious nut, but that was a cheap shot Dave, and not true at all.

    As for the girl, maybe if more girls did things like this, they’d rethink the whole “give your young daughter away” thing. Then again, maybe not.

  11. Marriage is between a man and a …… child???
    Nigeria is a Pirate Territory. Fly over and flush, twice.

  12. I think she has to serve some time. I don’t believe in capital punishment. Shooting from the hip, 15 years.

  13. Dave – blame the Christians for what happens in Muslim nations?

    Modern day Christians do not force children into marriage to pedophiles, unless they are in some sort of cult.

    And Exodus was thousands of years ago, when bride prices and child brides were common, as was open pedophelia.

  14. Until families value and cherish girl children, they will not have protection against pedophiles and forced marriages.

  15. It’s lively today in the comments section. I don’t think anyone deserves to die. Men who break the law regarding marriage should be prosecuted. I can’t know how she came to this decision and if she thought it was the only way out of her dilemma and what that dilemma was other than what we are presuming in such cases. Hopefully, more details will come out. She did murder, and the murder of the three friends is even more problematic. Did they rape her? Yes, she deserves mitigation of her case and yes, the law regarding no marriage of girls under 18 should be strongly enforced as well as the duties of the parents strongly defined so as to prevent them marrying their offspring off to anyone before 18 and only due to her own choice after that age. Will there be rage on the part of the patriarchal structure against the girl? Will she lose her life? (Will vigilantes bury her alive? It’s been known to happen.) As a child, her decision making abilities should be considered below those of an adult. In a harsh patriarchal (a given) society, punishment short of death for females is problematic as well, as she will be exposed to great harm and further trauma if incarcerated. A commenter wrote that this is a Nigerian case. I admit to a overwhelming bias against and revulsion toward any punitive patriarchal customs in Africa or any other nation regarding female castration, child marriage, and the lack of rights of females generally. Will it end as humanely as possible? Let’s hope so.

  16. J.T.: “The question is how the law should treat a young girl in such a circumstance.”

    If this is not in the United States, it’s none of our business. It’s their ‘religion’. As I have said before, we, as a Nation, due to our actions over the GITMO and Abu Gharib have lost all claim to any sort of moral superiority. That’s obviously the way her people do things, it’s part of their history, and weshould have no say one way or the other.

  17. Well said Theo!

    It seems that we do not appreciate our American freedom enough. Arranged marriage in America by law I do believe is not allowed in this country yet, however, I am no authority of how the Muslims in this country do things. Who knows, we may have it right here. The gypsies parade their children dressed as adult women in gymnasiums in this country for all their men to choose for a wife. I watched a video on TV one evening several years ago and the women seemed to be proud of it. The children were taught to accept it.

    As for the child bride, she probably had no recourse and did the only thing she could do at the time. Some punishment should be given after all there were lives taken, but in all likelihood they all abused her. she needs our prayers not condemnation.

  18. She lives in Nigeria? Without further ado…

    Due to the immense poverty and apparent hopeless situation of ordinary working people in Nigeria many of the old superstitions still survive today.

    Some years ago, 1995 to be precise, the nation woke to the horrifying story of two children whose fingers were burnt by the Prophetess of a church in alliance with their father to get them confess to an alleged “witchcraft powers”. Which they have been using to ‘bewitch’ their father, causing him misfortune and preventing him from progressing, etc. Shocking as this might seem, many people actually believe the charge of witchcraft levied against the children. However, the public outcry against this practice was so great that the Prophetess and the children’s father were tried and sentenced to various prison terms.

    But what kind of society causes such permanent disability to its children for, of all things, possessing ‘witchcraft powers’? What is the social basis for belief in witchcraft?

  19. When will governments & people learn that unjust laws are anathema. Yet every day we are told to go along to get along – accept the flow of mendaciousness. Like that 40yr Congress tax code – few people understand.

  20. Questions ignored. Just shoot them all with a camera, and stay out of WI. That’s all you have to think about.

  21. I truly feel bad for Wasila.. She feels remorse for what she did, and in her mind at the time it was her only way out. I kept thinking why didn’t she just run away and not do this? But where would she go? I hope the Nigerian laws aren’t too harsh on her as she is only 14 years old. I bet she is not allowed any kind of mail from the outside or help from US.. in regards to this matter.

  22. If a country makes it legal to cut off a teenager’s clitoris (torture her) and then rape her (put her in a marriage where she will be raped by a man whenever he wants to have sex with her, without her consent) then of course she should entre a battered spouse plea
    . While killing people is not okay, she had no other recourse to self-defense. She couldn’t flee; she was too young too work. So yes, a battered spouse defense is appropriate — or at least to some extent. I am not in a courtroom and do not understand the details. However, how can the state rape and torture without punition, and then an individual has no recourse — and that is okay? It is not.

  23. My thoughts go out to the 14 year old…any more info on her or the status…Thats awful the way their laws are set up..

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