Runaway teen was beaten, abused for refusing arranged marriage with older man

Yesterday, I wrote about a genuine hero who gave his life for a stranger. Today, I’m looking pretty far down the opposite end of the spectrum of human behavior.

Maarib Al Hishmawi is a 16-year-old girl who lived with her family in San Antonio Texas. The family moved here from Iraq about two years ago. Maarib went missing January 30th and police began to investigate her disappearance. San Antonio police deal with up to 15 missing teen cases per week, but most of those are solved within 24-hours.

But Maarib was not heard from by her family or her friends for weeks. Her father Abdulah Hishmawi became frustrated with the response of local police and contacted the FBI which then became involved in searching for Maarib.

By the end of February, police had learned Maarib’s parents had been arranging a marriage between her and a 28-year-old man from Dallas that Maarib had only met once when she was 15-years-old. There were also vague allegations of possible abuse but the police wouldn’t specify who was involved. Local media interviewed Maarib’s father who denied there had been any abuse. From News 4 San Antonio:

“Please help me. Every time we go into her room, we cry,” said Abdulah Hishmawi, the teen’s father…

“Nobody abused my daughter,” Hishmawi said he did tell police about a possible arranged marriage in the works between Maarib and a family friend from Dallas. The teen’s father says the man is around 25 years old and first meet the family last May when Maarib was 15 years old…

Hishmawi says he was never going to force his daughter to marry the family friend, but if she agreed, he would give his parental permission through the courts to do so. Marriage or not, Hishmaw doesn’t believe that’s the reason his daughter is missing.

There’s a video of the interview with Abdulah Hishmawi here. Abdulah played the role of the grieving father but his story didn’t hold up. In mid-March, authorities located Maarib alive and well. She told police why she had run away. From MY San Antonio:

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Maarib Alhishmawi, who was found in mid-March, told Child Protective Services of abuse at the hands of her parents. She told authorities that her parents poured hot cooking oil on her and hit her with broomsticks when she objected to an arranged marriage.

“At least at one point she was choked almost to the point of unconsciousness,” Salazar said. Adding that both parents took part in the abuse.

Her father, Abdulah Fahmi Kala Alhishmawi, 34, and mother, Hamdiyah Sabah Alhishmawi, 33, are each facing at least one felony count of continuous family violence, according to Salazar.

“I believe it was the female suspect, the mother, that at one point actually threw hot cooking oil on her because she was refusing to take part in this marriage,” Salazar said.

And it gets worse. The abuse wasn’t just because the parents were eager to have grandchildren. The 28-year-old man who wanted to marry 16-year-old Maarib had offered the family a payment of $20,000. In short, the parents were selling their teen daughter to an older man she didn’t know. When she refused to go along with it, they beat her. When she ran away, they lied about the reasons why.

Now the parents are under arrest. They are facing the abuse charges to start but could face additional charges from the FBI. The older man who tried to arrange the marriage will also likely be facing charges. Maarib and her five siblings are being cared for by authorities. Here’s a police announcement about the case.