Police in San Antonio, Texas, arrested the parents of a teenage girl who was allegedly beaten repeatedly with broomsticks and burned with hot cooking oil because she refused an arranged marriage. The 16-year-old girl and her siblings are now safely in CPS custody.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar told reporters in San Antonio that 16-year-old Maarib Al Hishmawi, who was originally reported missing in January, had been found. Police found her in mid-March and took her to CPS in an attempt to learn more about her disappearance. During the time the teenage girl was missing, investigators learned the parents may have abused her because she refused to accept an arranged marriage, the sheriff said.
“As we began questioning her, we began finding out more details that were quite disturbing,” Sheriff Salazar told reporters. “We became aware that in mid-2017 there had been a marriage arrangement made between the family of this young lady and an adult male living in another city.” The sheriff said that approximately $20,000 was going to exchange hands for the marriage.
“This young lady, over that time period, was subjected to some pretty bad abuse because she didn’t want to be married to this person,” the sheriff continued. The sheriff said that Al Hishmawi had hot cooking oil thrown on her body several times and was beaten with broomsticks.
“At least at one point, she was choked almost to the point of unconsciousness,” Salazar said. “It’s really heartbreaking to hear.”
The teenager told police the only way she could escape the abuse was to agree to the marriage. “At the point the marriage was going to take place, the lady left home — she ran away,” he explained.
The sheriff said they eventually found the young girl and that she and her five siblings are now safely in protective custody. The siblings range from five to 15-years-of-age.
Her parents, Abdulah Fahmi Al Hishmawi, 34 and Hamdiyah Saha Al Hishmawi, 33, are in police custody awaiting charges of continuing family violence, the sheriff told reporters on Friday. “It’s possible that other charges might apply.”
Al Hishmawi originally claimed his daughter was taken from his home, KSAT reported.
“My daughter, she got kidnapped, or armed, somebody take her,” the father told the local ABC affiliate. He complained that San Antonio authorities were slow to help and even contacted the FBI for assistance.
The sheriff said the case is also being investigated by the FBI and federal charges could also be forthcoming.
The sheriff told reporters it is “highly likely” that the man who paid $20,000 to the parents for the 16-year-old’s hand in marriage could also face state or federal charges.
Salazar confirmed the allegation that both parents were involved in the abuse and that “it was the female suspect, the mother, that actually threw hot cooking oil on her because she was refusing to take part in this marriage.”
At the time the abuse took place and the marriage was arranged, Maarib Al Hishmawi was 15-years-old.