This story is commonplace, except the happy ending is unusual:
Editor's note: To keep the subject's identity confidential for this article, the woman's name has been changed and her face is shielded in the photograph.And note this chilling coda:
For years, all that Ashley could think about was escaping.
Ashley was little more than a prisoner in Saudi Arabia for 14 years, married to a traditionalist husband who had lured her to his country and then laughed derisively when she wanted to leave.
She gave birth to their children while she was there, and then could not bear to leave them behind in the society she had come to despise.
After two failed escape attempts, she made it out this year. Her children will celebrate their first Thanksgiving today, and next month, will share their first Christmas together. Saudi Arabian traditionalists do not celebrate those holidays, or birthdays.
Today, she will join hands with her children, thankful most of all for her freedom, and for her children's freedom. She appreciates the little things she can do now. "Just the basic fact that I can get in my own car and drive where I want, when I want, is so nice," she said. "No one asks where I've been. It's hard to believe." In Saudi Arabian traditional culture, women are not allowed to drive.
Ashley's ordeal began after she met her husband at a mosque she attended to learn about other religions. "Curiosity killed my life," Ashley says now. "He was looking for a wife."
Telling Ashley he wanted her to meet his family, the couple went to Saudi Arabia.
Ashley came to know a culture that treated women as property controlled by men, where she had no rights, and had no legal recourse for fighting the atrocities she suffered.
Her children were conceived under force, she said, calling it "basically rape."
"I'm kind of ashamed of it, but I shouldn't be," she said. "It's a different culture there. You don't say no to your husband. Even if you're cooking or changing your baby, you have to drop everything and do what he wants. You're not a person. You're your husband's possession."
She lost three babies to the miscarriages caused by her husband's beatings. Even then, he blamed her for the abuse, telling her she had caused his rages.
She made it to London in her first escape attempt, taking refuge with her sister, where her husband tracked her down. "Someone gave me up," Ashley said. "He threatened to kill the children if I didn't go back."
So she went back, but her husband arranged for her sister to be beaten, and Ashley endured beatings of her own.
Ashley planned her eventual escape carefully, contacting a friend at the U.S. Embassy, who arranged new passports and bought the family's airplane tickets.
On a family trip to Bahrain, Ashley had her chance. Her husband did not suspect she would flee again because the passports were gone.
The U.S. Embassy paid for the family's airfare to America, a loan Ashley will have to repay. After a brief stay in another state, the family arrived in Lake Havasu City.
She still lives in fear that they will be found. If that happens, she said, her husband would not force her to return to Saudi Arabia. Instead, he would have her killed, because she embarrassed him by leaving.Honor killings aren't a myth.
There are many other cases, in which the children have been kidnapped back to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in violation of custody orders. Our State Department, however, seems to see its duty to the Saudis outweigh its obligations to mere U.S. citizens, and fails to apply any pressure.
Imagine that, known U.S. citizens -- children! -- abducted in violation of our laws, and left to rot as prisoners, when not being sexually exploited according to the dictates of the "holy" Koran which sanctions child molestation:
A woman named Monica Stowers married a Saudi named Radwan. They had two children, a boy, Rasheed, and a girl, Amjad. Mowbray states their father abused the children, but not how. In Congressional testimony, Stowers said both children have been raped by their father’s relatives.This is just the tip of the iceberg. Our "friends" the Saudis are of course complicit:
Under Saudi law, a husband has to give a wife permission to enter or leave the country. Stowers entered Saudi Arabia, collected her children, and fled to the American embassy for help.
At the US embassy, the counsel general, Karla Reed, told Stowers that the embassy was not a hotel. Reed ordered the Marine guards to throw the kids outside. So the Marines dumped the girl on the sidewalk. The mother and son followed.
Amjad tried to leave Saudi Arabia in February, 2003. The Saudis stopped her because she didn’t have her husband’s permission.
The State Department did nothing to get her out. They continue to do nothing, for Amjad or for others.
Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind. and chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, says Saudi Arabia is conducting an impressive public-relations campaign, but the kingdom is covering up its active participation in kidnappings of American citizens.Outraged?
"We recently got a letter from the [Saudi] foreign minister. He said, 'We totally reject anything that damages our Islamic sharia law on which a total system of the state is founded, and which one-quarter of the population on this earth believe. The sharia regulates and guarantee all humanitarian rights without any prejudices. It is founded on God's orders, which we follow as well as the good objectives of Islam, namely justice.'
And I'd like to know where the justice is in denying Pat Roush her daughters for 17 years. And where is the justice for harboring kidnappers? And we know that that's been done, and we know they've been complicit in this."
Let your elected officials know:
Make them do their job.
What, you have something more important to do right now?