Rihanna. Aasiya Zubair Hassan. Laci Peterson.
What do a pop star born in Barbados, a Pakistani TV executive, and a pregnant housewife have in common?
They are all victims of domestic violence.
But while Rihanna’s and Laci Peterson’s stories have not been connected to their ethnicities or their religions, Aasiya’s has. News reports dubbing her gruesome murder an “honor killing” are all over the news, and there are many who are quick to blame Islam or Pakistani culture for what her husband has allegedly done, despite the fact that he has not used Islam to justify his deeds, and no Muslim organization, scholar, or imam has condoned her murder.
However, there is overwhelming evidence that the “honor killing” label is an incorrect one: Aasiya was Muzzamil Hassan’s third wife after two divorces, she suffered a history of abuse during her marriage to him, and his first wife’s cousin has spoken out about the domestic abuse that she faced while married to him. She had filed for divorce from him a week before her murder, yet she still worked in the same television station he did (they co-founded the network). As many domestic violence statistics show, women in abusive relationships are most in danger when they attempt to leave the relationship, and Aasiya had not only filed for divorce, but also gotten a protective order against her husband.
The same scenario has played out in other victims of other races and religions. In early January 2009, Serena Montes’ husband shot and killed her before killing himself in their California home. In the first week of February 2009, Sharon Bailey’s husband shot and killed her before killing himself in their Florida home. Teresa Bugarin and her son were stabbed to death by her husband when she told him she wanted a divorce in November 2008.
These women are all victims of a global issue that affects all women, all races, all religions, all cultures, and all genders: domestic violence. Labeling Aasiya’s murder an “honor killing” is not only erroneous, but it covers up the reality of what she and thousands of other women in the U.S. face as victims of domestic violence.