Sahar Thabit is facing three counts of child abuse after burning her 17-year-old daughter with a hot knife.
The Florida woman, 35, reportedly burned her daughter because she was talking to a boy online. The victim’s family had arranged a marriage between her and a cousin, and viewed the online friendship as disrespectful of their wishes.
The victim, who remains unnamed, showed detectives three burn marks. Two of the burns are on her left forearm, and one is on her upper-right arm. The girl told detectives her mother burned her in an act of “honor violence” because she had disrespected her family’s religious and cultural values.
Hollywood police claim the burnings occurred during the first or second week of January. The vice principal of the victim’s school contacted police on January 13th.
A classmate of the victim initially informed school officials of the burn marks. The classmate said the victim’s parents were furious when they discovered their daughter’s online activities.
Police brought the victim to the No More Tears organization. The group, run by Somy Ali, helps women brought to the U.S. through arranged marriages who often become victims of domestic and honor violence.
Ali spoke to reporters, providing information about the victim’s condition as well as giving insight on the nature of honor violence.
"When I spoke to her, she was terrified and tried to insist her parents didn't do it," Ali said. "She opened up a little, but then became reluctant because she thought I was working with the detectives."
Speaking on the Middle Eastern culture in which honor violence typically occurs, Ali said "It is a very image-based culture and you are seen as dishonoring the family for things like having premarital sex or having a boyfriend.”
“I think there is a sense that it is occurring more in the United States because we are recognizing it more," she added. Ali said she has not spoken with the victim since their initial conversation.
The victim’s father attempted to tell police that his daughter burned herself on the stove. When a detective noted the other identical burn marks, the man asked to speak with his lawyer and said nothing more.
Sahar Thabit, the offender, was not interviewed by police because she only speaks Arabic. The woman was released from jail on Saturday after posting a $22,500 bond. She was ordered not to have any contact with her daughter.