Reema’s story is one of tragedy, ignorance and sadness at a promising life lost at the hands of superstition and patriarchy.
That this happened in Jordan in 2010 beggars belief; already struck by the rising double-figures of honor killings in the Kingdom, the nature of Reema’s demise is all the more horrific:
“The suspect confessed to killing his wife, who is his cousin, in cold blood while she was sleeping,” a source close to the investigation, who preferred anonymity, told The Jordan Times over the phone on Sunday, noting that the suspect fired several bullets into her head.
He added that the alleged perpetrator, who was not identified by officials, claimed that he knew a “well” trusted man that convinced him that he and his wife, an English teacher, were “victims of sorcery” and that his wife, affected by the spell, would kill him first. [Source]
The husband had no prior history of mental problems, yet remained calm and clear throughout.
Various articles have mentioned the background of Reema Al-Abed, but none have captured the severity, the tragedy and the injustice in a manner as profound as her nephew, Mohammad Al-Abed, aka Aboosh:
She was too young to deserve this.
She was too beautiful inside and out to endure this torture and misery.
To know Reema, is to know that she was the youngest sister in a family of 4 brothers and 6 sisters, my mom being the eldest. My 86 year old grandfather was never supposed to bury his childern, especially not the youngest. لا اعتراض على حكم الله.
To know Reema, is to know that she was a small village girl with big girl dreams. She was bubbly, smart, full of life and energy, a jokster, and the smile never left her face, or those who surrounded her.
To know Reema, is to know that she was an artist at heart, but was short from making it into Yarmouk Uni College of Arts. She finished her studies in English Literature at Philadelphia Uni, and became an English teacher. Soon enough, she proved herself a valuable asset to the local society. She rose within the teacher ranks to become a course coordinator for the English teachers in the region. She was the leader of the local Scout Troops chapter, saluting the Jordanian flag every morning at the Al-Mastaba Girls High School.
To know Reema, is to know that she was shot less than 4 days after she finished her Higher Diploma exams for her IT degree.
To know Reema, is to know that the title of her IT degree graduation project was “التغيير للمستقبل الواعد” which translates to “Change for a Bright Future”, focusing on improving the tools the teachers have and making the student the pivotal point in an increasingly IT-integrated education process.
To know Reema, is to know she was a high caliber teacher who participated inQueen Rania’s Jordan Education Initiative and has presented her with appreciation letters from Queen Rania’s office. She defied all the odds in the community and she had the initiative to open up a Yarmouk Uni section in Al-Mastaba, so that her other female colleagues won’t have to travel to Irbid City during the week, but rather have the professor come to teach them; All in the name of easing their daily suffering!
To know Reema, is to believe that she was the best in what she did, plowing through the daily husbandry abuse that ultimately cost her her life.
To know Reema, is to know that she is one in many. She is the one whose life was cut short, but speaking for many who continue endure daily physical and mental abuse on the hands of their families and husbands. Yes, violence against women is a global disease. But this one, oh, struck too close to home, and the heart refuses to let her go in vain.
To know Reema, is to love Reema, and to promise her that her message is heard throughout the four corners of the universe.
However, we are awaiting to hear a single word from the Jordanian leadership which does have the political well and the moral obligation to bring in the change that was due the morning of last Friday! Your apathy, your indifference and your silence is deafening!
I challenge you to take on the responsibility that the people have entrusted in you. I challenge you to uphold your mandate that defines your role in the society. I challenge you to protect the constitutional rights for every woman and child in Jordan, and assure them the safety they are entitled to.
We have a problem that we all need to face with courage and humility.
Reema was a victim of abuse, and she died a martyr. For how long are we going to tolerate the abusers in our society? For how long are we going to accept bruised women with missing teeth walking amongst us as if it is the norm? For how long does the schizophrenic reality of this society going to take a free pass before we intervene and cure it? For how long are we going to allow one more frigging magician to destroy more homes of the country we love and belong to? Do we have to actually witness the sacrifice of every abused woman’s life before we put an end to this insanity? Or is it because Reema is an ordinary woman with an ordinary last name, you’d think she’ll be forgotten with the passing of days?
To know Reema, is to know she’s nothing but ordinary.
I call for the establishment of a foundation in her name, focused on the educating, protecting and empowering local women in all Jordanian govetnorates, and having the highest level of social, psychological, and psychosocial training to quickly act in response to domestic violence and abuse.
I am aware of the fact that such programs do exist in Jordan, but we need these programs and laws to be enforced, and the punishment to be stiff (as it is the case in other developed countries). This is the only way we can deter any one claiming to be a man who abuses a woman, believing it is his God-given right as a man.
Speaking for myself and for my family, I personally thank all of those who extended their condolences and prayers for my Aunt, may her soul rest in peace. The outpour of support, sympathy, and anger over her victimization is humbling.
The public outcry against this crime is overwhelming, both locally and internationally. A petition on change.org ushers the Jordan government and Royal Family to enforce the laws to protect women in Jordan. Global Voices, Elites TV and 7iber have also ran extended pieces on the story. Many follow bloggers and tweeps have been highly vocal and supportive in the need for change to honor Reema’s memory.
To know Reema, is to have the courage to walk high in her footsteps.